The government will continue to strengthen and deepen the current positive economic growth spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Saturday, after the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) predicted that Cyprus’ economy will continue to grow at an approximate three per cent rate until 2021.
He added that the government would attempt to deepen the strategic growth through the work of the new deputy ministry of tourism, the development benefits of the investment law, and the changes to local governance and the public sector.
“The projected sustained growth path is also reflected by a projected continued decline in unemployment, which the CBC estimates will be limited to 5.4 per cent by 2021,” Prodromou said.
In it’s third-quarter report, the Central Bank projected that economic growth would reach 3.8 per cent in 2018 and decelerate to 3.7 per cent in 2019, while economic expansion is projected to decline further to 3.2 per cent and 3.3 per cent in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The main drivers for growth in the forecast horizon are domestic demand, economic activity and investments, the CBC said.
“Large private investments amounting to €3 billion with a sizeable funding percentage coming from foreign capital have already begun and are projected to conclude by 2021,” the CBC said, noting these investments include renewable energy infrastructure projects, various construction for housing, commercial and mixed developments, marinas, hotel units and the casino resort.
These projects, the CBC added, “are expected to give great momentum to the Cypriot economy in the coming years.”
However, the CBC said the continued deleveraging efforts by the domestic private sector and the banks’ efforts to rationalise their balance sheets and reduce the high burden of non-performing loans will to certain extent weigh down economic growth.
On the banking sector, the CBC said the recent sales of NPL portfolio such as the sale of €2.7 billion of NPLs by the Bank of Cyprus to Apollo Capital have improved their asset quality, boosting investor and depositor confidence.
“Despite the noted progress which will reduce NPL rate under 30% we are still far from the European average levels of 3.6 per cent,” the CBC stressed.
However, like the EU and the IMF, the CBC expressed reservations over a government’s Estia scheme aiming to subsidise part of the repayment plan for non-performing housing loans.
Approved by the EU DG Competition, the plan is expected to be launched in 2019 and will cost the government €33 million annually for the next 25 years.
“Our concerns are premised mainly on the possible moral hazard, which could be manifested through deliberate defaults by borrowers which hope for future state assistance or believe the scheme is unfair as it subsidises strategic defaulters,” the CBC said, adding “therefore any scheme should assist the efforts by all stakeholders for the creation of a repayment culture and not to increase risks for the contrary.”
On the fiscal side, the CBC said Cyprus will continue to post a strong fiscal position with high fiscal surpluses but cautioned against demands which increase state expenditure.
“The trend for demands which increase state spending should not lead to a slippage. Any increase in state expenditure should be controlled and targeted to avoid a fiscal derailment,” the CBC underlined, recalling that rating agencies have concluded that Cyprus’ public debt will continue its significant downward trend.
“Therefore, the continuation of the public debt reduction is a sine qua non,” the CBC stressed.