President Nikos Christodoulides on Tuesday delivered the keynote speech at this year’s Nicosia Economic Congress, focusing on his administration’s commitment to economic progress and development, while also acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead.
The president highlighted the need for Cyprus to create an environment that promotes innovation, progress, and prosperity to attract quality investment, entrepreneurship, and a high standard of living for its citizens.
“I assure you that we will work hard to create an environment conducive to innovation, progress and prosperity,” Christodoulides said.
“Especially today, when we are at a crossroads of an ever-changing global economy and with the geopolitical environment constantly changing, we are called upon not only to successfully face the challenges before us but also to seize the opportunities that also exist,” he added.
He explained that despite the challenges of the past year, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the Cypriot economy remained resilient and experienced a strong recovery.
During his recap of recent events, the president noted that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 5.6 per cent in 2022 after expanding by 6.6 per cent in 2021.
Moreover, sectors such as tourism, trade, accommodation, and food services showed remarkable growth, alongside the field of information and communication technologies.
Looking ahead, the president recognised the fact that the economic challenges of 2023, as well as the various risks and adverse effects that stem from them, are expected to be somewhat more severe than those of 2022.
However, despite these challenges, he said, the government’s goal remains focused on creating a sustainable and prosperous economy that will benefit all Cypriots.
Christodoulides stated that they are “in advanced consultations” with some countries and expect to see some “important investments” in the country within 2023.
“Already, we are in contact with some countries, in advanced consultations and we expect, within the coming year, to see some important investments in our country,” he stated.
“This includes an improvement of our relations with the countries of the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf, as well as India and Japan, but also in terms of the framework of our new, strategic relationship with the USA,” he added, noting that “by making use of these excellent political relations, we will have some important investments to announce”.
To achieve this vision for the economy and society, Christodoulides said that the government is guided by the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
The plan aims to promote a more diverse and resilient growth model and improve the business environment.
Moreover, it includes measures and reforms aimed at diversifying the economy, limiting excessive borrowing by the private sector, ensuring the sustainability of public debt in the medium term, and resolving non-performing loans (NPLs) both inside and outside the banking sector.
He noted that the implementation of these measures is vital to correct the weak and vulnerable points of the economy with sustainable actions.
According to the economic impact assessment of the plan, the Cyprus Recovery and Resilience Plan is expected to have a significant macroeconomic impact in the short, medium, and long term.
According to estimates, the plan could lead to a cumulative increase in Cyprus’s GDP of about 3 per cent in the short term and about 7 per cent in the medium term until 2026, compared to the baseline development scenario without its implementation.
In addition, it is expected to significantly increase employment by more than 2.5 per cent, translating to about 11,000 new quality jobs for the period 2021-2026 and about 6 per cent in the long term.
The president emphasised that the government’s strategy to realise its vision for the economy and society is not affected by election cycles.
“When we talk about the economy of a country, the planning, the vision for the future of the economy, this should not be affected by election cycles,” the president said.
“So, we are building on what has been achieved in recent years and we are here building on all of this to improve the weaknesses that we have identified that have arisen along the way and to create new perspectives for our country,” he added.
The government is cooperating with all agencies involved, the private sector, and parliamentary parties to implement the measures outlined in the plan effectively and efficiently.
“In order to achieve our goals, we must give top priority to the digital transformation, aimed at strengthening the country’s digital infrastructure, promoting the use of digital technologies and stimulating the digital economy with the aim of creating an integrated digital state,” Christodoulides said.
“Investments in cyber security, digital skills training and 5G networks are fundamental to creating a more competitive and innovative economy capable of meeting the challenges of today’s digital age,” he added.
With these measures, the president said, Cyprus is on the path to becoming a model state that attracts quality investment, promotes entrepreneurship, and offers a high standard of living for its citizens.
“Our important priority is the promotion of entrepreneurship and the improvement of the business environment,” he said.
“Through the National Research and Innovation strategy we implement a set of initiatives aimed at promoting and supporting research and innovation activities and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology between research institutions and businesses,” the president added.
What is more, Christodoulides noted that the operation of the central Knowledge Transfer Office will facilitate the commercialisation of research results and technologies, connecting researchers with businesses and other potential users of research results.
Finally, the president said that among his administration’s core pursuits is “the assurance of conditions of prosperity for the whole of our society”.
He added that the goal is to reduce inequalities and mitigate the adverse effects of rising energy costs on both businesses and citizens.
Finally, the president warned that “we must not forget that the road ahead is complex and full of challenges both regionally and internationally, however, challenges and crises always create opportunities”.
“We should take advantage of these opportunities and achieve the effective implementation of all that we have planned. I believe that this is the only way and can lead us to achieve our goals,” he concluded.