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Cyprus Business Now: weekly wrap-up

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Below are the top business stories from Cyprus for the week starting May 15:

Tourist arrivals in Cyprus experienced an increase of 18.5 per cent in April 2023, compared to the same period last year, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat).

In addition, Cypriot residents’ trips abroad during the same time grew by more than half over the corresponding period of the previous year, with Greece being their primary destination.

The Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat) on Wednesday reported a notable deceleration in harmonised inflation for the month of April.

According to the report, the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) increased by 3.9 per cent compared to April 2022, with a 0.9 per cent increase from the previous month.

The Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) on Wednesday reported a decrease in non-performing loans (NPLs) at the end of February 2023.

NPLs decreased by approximately €60 million compared to the previous month, resulting in a decrease in the percentage of NPLs to total loans, which now stands at 9.3 per cent after reaching 9.5 per cent in the previous month.

The vice-president of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve), Andreas Demetriades, this week highlighted the concerning issue of soaring rental costs, which, in many cases, exceed the means of Cypriots to afford a place to live, let alone purchase property.

In response to this phenomenon, the chamber has proposed to the Finance Minister the implementation of various incentives for developers and builders to substantially increase the housing supply in Cyprus.

Three law firms have been reported to the police over suspicions they have violated EU sanctions, the Cyprus Bar Association said on Thursday.

A further two reports were filed to police about lawyer’s clients, after lawyers alerted the association over fears their clients may have violated EU sanctions.

Cypriot firm Ask Wire on Friday released a report examining the age of buildings in the city and suburbs of Limassol, helping to outline the trajectory of residential development over time, as well as the areas that are experiencing the most growth.

According to the firm, which specialises in the blending of real estate knowledge with the use of advanced technology and analytics, there are 52,259 buildings in the city and suburbs of Limassol, out of which approximately 806 are new properties, with a maximum age of up to 10 years old.

The Bank of Cyprus has prepared a proposal aimed at reducing lending rates, which has been submitted to the Central Bank of Cyprus, according to the group’s CEO Panicos Nicolaou.

Nicolaou further stated that the Central Bank of Cyprus is currently seeking approval from the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).

Registrar of Companies Irini Mylona on Friday morning said her office has been greenlighted to proceed with examination of applications for personnel replacements received from companies caught up in the sanction lists fallout.

Speaking on CyBC’s morning programme, Mylona confirmed that around 500 to 600 companies were awaiting processing and that her office was assembling a team of experts to study the requests. The registrar refused to comment on the political angle of the matter.

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) on Friday stated that it has recently detected additional cases of fraudulent impersonation of CySEC officers and representatives, following an earlier warning, issued on November 22, 2022.

The commission said that investors should be particularly vigilant of imposters soliciting fees in exchange for settlement of bogus compensation claims related to firms under its direct supervision.

The Bank of Cyprus on Tuesday announced that it generated a €95 million after-tax profit for the first quarter of 2023, a significant improvement over the corresponding period of 2022, when it recorded a profit of €17 million.

Crucially, the bank has also proceeded with the resumption of dividend payments for the first time in 12 years, paying a €0.05 dividend per ordinary share.

After Cyprus breathed an initial sigh of relief on Friday over the UK’s and US’ latest round of sanctions, which did not appear to identify additional Cypriot individuals or entities, conflicting statements about the impact emerged shortly afterwards.

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