Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Natasa Pilides this week said that Cyprus’ business community continues to carry on unabated, displaying great resilience, despite the numerous exogenous challenges it faces.
Pilides’ comments were delivered during her address at an event held to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Evel), where the minister praised the importance of Cypriot businesses, while also stressing that the future lies in the green transition.
“The business world of Cyprus is returning to normality, despite the challenges caused by the war in Ukraine and not only continues unscathed but shows a tremendous resilience in relation to external challenges”, Pilides said.
“We can see that our exports are continuing to grow, while we also believe that the services and industrial sectors have huge prospects,” she added, pointing out that within two years the contribution of industry to Cyprus’ GDP reached 8.5 per cent, up by 1 per cent from its previous share.
She also expressed her certainty that the members of the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry have contributed in a significant manner to these encouraging growth rates, praising their initiatives and hard work.
“The state certainly has a very important role to play in terms of supporting business activity, as well as supporting the actions of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and the local chambers,” Pilides said, paying reference to the short-term measures Cyprus took to address the energy crisis.
“At the same time, these are palliative measures and do not solve the problems, which can only be solved through the green transition, which remains a huge challenge,” she added.
Furthermore, the minister said that Investing in green practices, whether it concerns the circular economy or the installation of photovoltaics, as well as digitisation and the use of technology, is an excellent way to save funds.
She also noted that her ministry, through a fund of €585 million, has already launched and will continue to launch various support projects for the programming period 2021-2027.
Addressing the members of the local chamber of commerce, she said that “the efforts of the state are supportive of your own work and you, as a business community, are certainly the backbone on which our economy is based”.
Pilides concluded by saying that the support of the state to the business community of Cyprus should be considered a given.
Elsewhere at the event, in a greeting read by the vice president of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce Othonas Theodoulou, Keve president Christodoulos Angastiniotis, expressed his optimism that “despite the difficulties we are now facing, the future belongs to us”.
“Despite the difficulties, tourism performed well during the summer season, operating at satisfactory levels, as did the real estate, trade, shipping and professional services sectors,” he added.
However, he noted that there is still concern about what will happen in the future, as the forecast for the European economy is not positive, noting that key sectors of the Cypriot economy have begun to show signs of stagnancy or decline.
Angastiniotis said that the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce has requested the preparation of an emergency action plan that covers all sectors and includes targeted measures for each activity, aiming to accelerate the implementation of reforms and the digital transformation of the state.
“We have raised the issue of the cost of industrial electricity, bank interest rates, banks’ lending policy, infrastructure in industrial zones and regions, and the issue of labour shortages, among other things,” the Keve president explained.
In addition, he expressed certainty that “with the initiatives we are undertaking, we will be able to both contain the effects of the crisis and promote business activity in new fields”.
Meanwhile, Limassol Chamber of Commerce president Andreas Tsouloftas said that in the difficult economic conditions caused by the war in Ukraine, there must be prudence on the part of everyone and that there is no room for complacency.
He also attributed Limassol’s spectacular growth almost exclusively to the dynamic approach of its private sector, underlining that, based on its population, Limassol ranks second to last in public spending on development and other government projects.
What is more, he also spoke on the lack of human resources, which he described as a serious problem, the lack of places for professional and residential housing, especially affordable housing for workers, and called on the state to take all necessary measures that can help resolve these issues.
Finally, Tsouloftas said that Limassol continues to grow, expand and consolidate its promising high-tech sector.