The 2024 state budget will have a 2.2 per cent surplus, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday.

Christodoulides was speaking at the Cyprus chamber of commerce and industry (Keve)’s annual general meeting and said the surplus “reflects our commitment to lasting reforms and fiscal stability.”

“The budget which is being sent to parliament for a vote sets out our political priorities and transforms the basic principles of our programme of governance into costed and implementable projects and reforms, having the people at the centre of all policies,” he said.

He added that the government “is focused on the immediate and effective resolution of chronic issues which concern ordinary people, on ensuring a strong and resilient economy, on the modernisation of the state, on the green and digital transition, and on laying the foundations for a better tomorrow, while having a focus on education and health.”

The government’s priorities for the coming year, he said, include tax reform and the ending of Cyprus’ energy isolation, which will be achieved through drilling for natural gas and electrical interconnectors.

In addition, he referred to the “photovoltaics for all” plan, wherein people will be able to buy solar panels for their homes without upfront costs, and pay them off via their electricity bills over time.

He went on to speak of his plans to “strengthen the competitiveness of business” as well as speeding up the judicial process, aided by the digital transition.

Additionally, he made reference to local government reform and alterations made to the country’s public services, including the planned creation of a Deputy ministry for migration and asylum.

Moving on to the matter of Gesy, he said the service “undoubtedly needs cuts” to secure the required improvements to the system and its sustainability “before it’s too late”.

He said he hopes for parliament’s cooperation in bringing about those reforms.

He also called for a legislative framework to deal with “the issue of the country’s competitiveness, the reputation and image of Cyprus abroad.” He said that “there are different opinions and approaches, there are disagreements, but there is no other option, and the government will proceed on this issue.”

To this end, he said “there is a real political commitment to show zero tolerance for actions which expose Cyprus on the international stage.”

“We are working in this direction, to implement concrete actions which will restore Cyprus’ prestige as a reliable business and financial centre,” he said.

With this in mind, he made reference to the assistance provided by American sanctions experts to the Cypriot authorities in investigating “serious” violations of anti-Russian sanctions, saying they are helping “in all our efforts”.