Cyprus has taken a slew of measures to prevent cyberattacks while tourism bodies are assessing how the loss of the Russian market and high risk surrounding the Israeli market can be tackled, deputies at the House finance committee heard on Monday.

In the first part of the discussion on the 2024 state budget, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades said “it is our national goal to achieve green transition. If we do not achieve this, health and education will suffer. I personally cannot accept this because without health and education, we have no future.”

Briefing MPs, he said the first action plan of his ministry is to reduce traffic congestion. Currently, 750,000 cars are registered in Cyprus.

With better infrastructure and services such as the Pame Express available in Nicosia, smart traffic lights, more bus routes, utilising technology and improving connectivity between rural areas and city centre’s can all contribute to this goal.

Additionally, the ministry will redesign all government buildings so as to ensure they comply with green transition. The government also wants to boost e-mobility through grants so as to reduce energy costs and improve road safety through the use of technology as well as education of the public, in a joint effort to drastically reduce road accidents.

Asked over the scheme attracting airlines, Vafeades said it had been very effective as Cyprus managed to surpass the number of passengers it had in 2019. He described the feat as one which no one expected, which also served to extend the island’s tourism period.

So far, the losses from the Russian market have been covered, however the government is concerned over the Israeli market which appears to be at risk. All tourism bodies involved are trying to assess how they could handle the situation if it unfolds that way.

Meanwhile, deputy Research Minister Philippos Hadjizacharias, presenting the budget for next year revealed expenses amounting to €160.5 million and revenues to €11.1m.

He noted there are now three areas the deputy ministry is focusing on: cybersecurity, digital reform and research and technology. The goal for the latter is to ensure findings are channeled into the ecosystem.

According to Hadjizacharias, electronic ID and signatures will be implemented in 2024, as they are among the top priorities for the ministry, as well as tackling bureaucracy.

Commenting on cyberattacks, Hadjizacharias told deputies a series of concerted actions are underway such as risk assessment, installing sensors in 32 key servers, penetrations tests and soon, 21 job openings will be announced for experts who will be tasked exclusively with state cyber security.