By Sarah Ktisti
The government will take all necessary measures to protect Cyprus’ name as a reliable business and investment centre President Nikos Christodoulides said on Friday.
Speaking at the ‘Invest Cyprus’ event on the sidelines of the Economic Forum held in Delphi, Christodoulides referred to the long-term strategic plan for the Cypriot economy until 2035, which aims, he said, to promote innovation and attract investments in sectors such as tourism, shipping and energy.
In his address to the forum, the president was at pains to play down Cyprus’ image as a haven for shady characters and questionable money sources, noting that the government was working tirelessly on not only fully investigating but also establishing a strong supervisory framework, including the establishment of a fully-fledged national sanctions implementation unit, with technical support from the UK government.
In recent years, Cyprus has taken significant steps to enhance its AML regulations and strengthen its supervisory framework, he said. The government has introduced new legislation and regulations, increased the number of AML supervisors, and invested in training and capacity building. Furthermore, the Central Bank of Cyprus has been actively working to reduce the number of non-resident deposits in Cypriot banks, particularly those from high-risk jurisdictions,” he added.
Referring to the fact that there is a new government, Christodoulides said they had already set in motion an ambitious governance programme with bold reforms, aiming to broaden the productive base of the economy, fully capitalising on research and technology and utilising our country’s human talent.
“In this respect we fully endorse the long-term economic strategy “Vision2035”, setting a roadmap for the country’s development and growth over the next decade”.
Amongst our highest priorities is the promotion of a comprehensive tax reform, aiming at the reduction of administrative burdens for taxpayers and businesses, while retaining the system’s attractiveness.
“The plan also focuses on human capital and skills development, on green growth and digital transformation. All government strategic planning is supported by EU funds, namely the Recovery and Resilience Programme and the Thalia Programme, covering the period up to 2027,” he added.
According to the president, as a result of this multi-dimensional approach, Cyprus is attracting foreign direct investment in finance, shipping, tourism, information and communication, retail trade, health, tertiary education and professional services, in particular head-office activities.
“We also promote a number of actions for ensuring a swift digital transition, while enhancing the country’s capacity in maintaining a favourable business environment, more simplified and with less red tape,” he stressed.
As regards the green transition, Christodoulides said his government was fully committed to the EU’s Green Deal, with particular focus on subsidising green initiatives and further promoting the use of renewable energy sources in the country’s energy mix.
In 2022, Cyprus introduced a strategy for attracting businesses and talent to the island, which included the creation of a business facilitation unit and a package of tax and other incentives for companies that wish to set up headquarters or a regional base in Cyprus.
Regarding the shipping sector, Christodoulides said the sector benefits from a competitive tax system, while developing its position in the maritime technology sector, offering opportunities for investment in areas such as ship management software, cybersecurity and drone technology for maritime surveillance.
Meanwhile, he told the audience that the discovery of significant offshore gas reserves, presents opportunities for investment in infrastructure and services. “The Russian invasion in Ukraine has put at the forefront in the EU the need for energy independence and diversification, and Cyprus can play an important part in these efforts of the EU,” he noted.
Christodoulides also chose to highlight Cyprus’ foreign policy. “We have worked methodically during the last years in building strong ties both with countries in the wider Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Gulf, as well as with the United States, where there have been leaps of progress in building a truly strategic partnership. At the same time we have worked on enhancing in tangible terms our relations with important players such as India – that I plan on visiting with a business delegation in the first half of 2024 – and Japan,” he said.