Nicosia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday suggested that the former state fair ground in Engomi be converted into a hub for innovation and business.
The proposal was contained in a letter asking all candidates for Nicosia district in Sunday’s parliamentary elections to back a new vision for the capital.
Signed by chairman Michalis Moushouttas, the letter aims to open a channel of communication and encourage cooperation that he said would turn Nicosia into a point of reference not just for Cyprus but the wider region.
As a body which represents thousands of members from all political parties and nearly all the sectors of the economy, the chamber urged candidates to continue to support measures to back businesses and employees dealing with fallout from the pandemic and to provide more support for the most affected sectors.
Liquidity, more tolerance from the state as regards tax and other obligations, the scrapping of antiquated laws that impede business and create red tape and a better framework for investments and digital reform of the state were also called for.
The division of Nicosia, the last divided capital of Europe, stifles growth to the north and compounds traffic and other problems, the chamber said. Emphasis should therefore be given to alternative solutions to boost the development of the district more widely, it added.
Their suggestions included promoting a ‘smart city’ that could be financed with EU funds, enhancing innovation and a digital economy by supporting the technological centre in old Nicosia and supporting cultural tourism.
“We believe that in this knowledge and scientific sector, Nicosia has a comparative advantage (because of the existence of more research centres, hospitals and universities in Nicosia) and the Chamber with your support will continue its effort to make the capital a regional centre for research, knowledge and innovation,” Moushouttas said.
As regards a green and sustainable economy, the letter calls for more viable urban transport including a tram as a private-public project that could start in 2025 and the financing of a comprehensive plan for the Pedieos river as a green area for the capital.
On the cultural front, it calls for university departments and student residences in Nicosia within the walls, speedy contracts for the construction of a new Cyprus Museum, a competition for a new parliament building and a new state library.
Transport figured prominently, with the chamber calling for action to resolve the traffic congestion issue that has plagued the capital for years.
Though Nicosia does not fit the tourism model of sun and sea, as a cultural, business, administrative, medical, sport, research and educational centre it can offer an excellent alternative choice for investors and visitors, thereby extending the tourism season, the letter added as it called for incentives to encourage such projects.