Cyprus has been a success story, the president of the European Investment Bank said on Friday, despite the difficulties still faced by the economy.
“All and all Cyprus has been a success story, the activities, the efforts, the sacrifices of the Cypriot people, were very very painful, I am aware of that, and still youth unemployment is too high, unemployment figures are not satisfactory, certainly not, but still it is a success story if we go back 4-5 years to where we stand now,” Werner Hoyer said after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades.
“I would not have expected that some years ago and the bank has contributed to that, I am really proud of it.”
Hoyer said the EIB was heavily exposed to Cyprus – 16 per cent of the island’s GDP was the bank’s portfolio – and “we are going to continue to do that, we are going to be in quite different areas of the economy.”
“We are particularly successful presently with loans to small and medium sized companies (SMEs) because that is the backbone of the industry here,” he said.
Asked if he was satisfied with the performance of the loan agreements signed with the island’s banks, and what loan agreements would Cyprus and the EIB have in 2016, Hoyer said “things always start a little bit slow and then they take up speed and I talked to the banks yesterday and they urgently demand more. That is a very good sign.”
“In addition to that we are interested in a couple of important infrastructure things here.”
EIB financing in Cyprus totalled €215mln in 2015, with SMEs accounting for 62 per cent.
Other sectors that benefitted are solid waste management projects, 9 per cent, urban development and transport with 14 per cent, and telecommunications with 6 per cent.
Over the past five years (2011-2015), the EIB has invested EUR €1.3bln in Cyprus, with funding spread across all sectors of the Cypriot economy.