Cyprus’ path to recovery “must and will” be aligned to sustainable development goals` Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides has said.
Speaking at the virtual UN High-Level Political Forum to present Cyprus’ second Voluntary National Review (VNR), he said the Covid-19 reality, brought unexpected challenges and changes to everyday life but also to public policies, adding that the Cyprus government’s top priority was the protection of the health of its citizens and to mitigate the economic effects of the crisis.
“The response of the government was immediate, swift and forceful, comprising of a package of budgetary, liquidity and policy measures to sustain the health system, support businesses and secure jobs” he said, noting that in 2020, the total impact of the support package exceeded 12.5% of GDP.
In the period that elapsed since its first VNR in 2017, and given the five years of continuous high economic growth, Cyprus has shown progress in most SDG indicators, even though major challenges still remain, he added.
The island has shown a significant increase in performance from 2017, moving up 16 steps, from the 50th position to the 34th position in the Global ranking, Petrides said.
“We are fully committed to promoting all three pillars of sustainable development, and thus we have adopted an appropriate country-specific mix of 133 investments and reforms contributing towards economic development and digitalization, social inclusion, as well as green transition” he added.
Petrides said that to support economic recovery, the Cyprus government has laid down the foundations for a very ambitious investment programme towards a greener, more inclusive and more resilient economy and society.
Moreover, he said that the government was actively participating in a new international Climate Change Initiative to address the specific needs and challenges countries are facing in the region and advance mitigation actions.
Referring to illegal immigration, he said it was a major challenge for Cyprus and noted that the number of migrants arriving on the island was in the thousands every year. “Small Cyprus ranks on top of all European countries in the number of asylum applications in relation to the population” he said, adding that the vast majority of those arrive through the north from Turkey.
“The situation is unsustainable in the absence of an international mechanism that would effectively address increasing illegal migration” Petrides said.
He also said that the government aspires to transform Cyprus into the “Sustainable Business and Trade Centre of Europe.”
“Our path to recovery must and will be aligned to our SDG journey. We have taken a holistic approach and concrete steps to support sustainable development through our government’s plan ‘Cyprus for Tomorrow’ with an overall budget of €4.4bn or 21.5% of GDP comprising the main European Funds, namely the Recovery and Resilience Fund and the Cohesion funds” he concluded.