Business and the economy were the main focus of an election debate held on Tuesday among the three leading presidential candidates, the first of its kind held in English.

Disy president Averof Neophytou, Akel-backed Andreas Mavroyiannis and independent Nikos Christodoulides held their discussion at a debate organised by TechIsland in Limassol.

During the event, they spoke about their positions on six issues given to them to an audience of mostly foreign businessmen, managers and other high-ranking executives of companies operating in Cyprus.

The issues discussed focused on the economy, the development of Cyprus as a centre of research and technology, the conditions for foreign companies and workers to operate, the naturalisation programme, the problems of finding accommodation and foreign language schooling for those wishing to work in Cyprus and the lack of finding qualified personnel from the domestic market.

A Cyprus that will be at the highest economic level is envisioned, Neophytou said. “My first priority is to do everything I can to reunite Cyprus, because when we talk about the economy you cannot have a stable economy if you don’t have security in your country.”

Expressing his confidence that his vision of a Cyprus at the AAA ratings level can be achieved, he said that he believes in an economy with lower taxes, with more incentives and cooperation with the private sector, and in the creation of a green, technologically developed digital island.

Mavroyiannis said his vision is for an economy based on the competitive advantages of our country that is open to the rest of the world.

“We should focus, as a small country, on sectors such as high technology, but at the same time create a new economic mix, as you cannot rely on just one sector,” he said.

He added that it is the government’s responsibility to create these conditions for a good quality of life for all Cypriots and foreigners, turning the country into an attractive destination for business.

The visions among the candidates are not different, but it is more issue of reliability and ability to implement them, he said.

Christodoulides said his vision is to make Cyprus one of the best countries in the EU to live, work and do business.

He added that this will be achieved with specific actions, such as continuous structural reforms, strengthening competitiveness, diversifying the product base of the economy, attracting investment, maintaining an open channel of communication with the private sector and the business community, dealing with corruption problems, the digitisation of the public sector, the expansion of the range of services provided, and the interconnection of the educational system with the economy.