Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill aiming to facilitate strategic investments, simplifying procedures and reducing bureaucracy.

Strategic investments are those which amount to €20 million, of which at least 75 per cent stems from primary capital such as new, liquid and available funds directly linked to the projects.

Alternatively, the investment must create at least 80 permanent job positions of any kind, or 50 new positions with an annual salary exceeding €1.5m.

Finally, the third option is a €15m investment of which at least 75 per cent stems from primary capital and creates 30 new permanent jobs.

Additionally, strategic investments could be anchor companies, being a well-known multinational of international reputation, which will develop business activity in Cyprus and is listed in relevant international lists Forbes 2000, Nasdaq, FTSE 350.

The bill aims to streamline a host of reforms that simplify the licensing process for strategic investments and reduce bureaucracy.

It includes provisions to establish a Strategic Development Sector within the interior ministry’s planning and zoning department, under which the project management branch and the permitting branch will operate.

Additionally, the bill establishes a statutory mechanism that will allow the designation of a development as strategic for the Cypriot economy, on the basis of objective criteria, which are generally described in the law and specified in regulations.

It also establishes a project manager for each strategic development project included in the mechanism, who will act as a central point of contact for the applicant with government agencies, will be involved from the initial stage of the application assessment and will be the applicant’s single point of contact with all agencies for licensing purposes.

Additionally, the bills seeks to ensure that planning permits and building permits are issued at a centralised level by the strategic development division within a one-year timeframe – tops. With this arrangement, the multiplicity of building and planning authorities is abolished and the Single Licensing Authority is determined to be the head of the strategic development sector, i.e. the director of the planning and zoning department for strategic development projects.

Furthermore, binding timetables will be set up over when all the required permits will be issued. The relevant departments will commit themselves in this respect by concluding Memoranda of Understanding between the interior ministry and the relevant ministries.

The bill envisages that the applicant may choose to undertake the consultations themselves with more certainty as they will know in advance what consultations are required.

Additionally, it institutionalises the conduct of consultations by arranging a meeting with all stakeholders, chaired by the head of the strategic development division, in the presence of the project manager, where the views expressed will be binding.

Lastly, the environment department shall be solely responsible for consultation and advice on all environmental matters.