Cypriot state officials on Tuesday used their attendance at the annual general meeting of the Association of Cyprus Banks to call for a reduction in lending rates and a narrowing of the gap between deposit and lending interest rates.

This year’s assembly highlighted the robust condition of the Cypriot banking sector, which finds itself in the best state since the 2013 financial crisis, boasting high capital ratios and profitability following elevated interest rates.

In her address to the assembly, House Speaker Annita Demetriou highlighted the impact of high interest rates on financing costs, coupled with rising production costs and reduced real disposable income of households, which she described as “an additional critical factor affecting the current financial situation of households and businesses.”

AstroBank CEO Aristides Vourakis on Tuesday was elected as president of the Association of Cyprus Banks for the next two years, with Antonis Rouvas, interim CEO of Hellenic Bank, stepping into the role of vice president.

The association’s annual general meeting, which preceded the formal proceedings, elected the new leadership.

It was also noted that, for the first time since the recent statutory changes, the president and vice president will serve a two-year term, in contrast to the one-year term that had been in place until today.

At the same time, executives from the eight other member banks of the association are participating in the board of directors.

The Paphos Regional Tourism Board (Etap) hosted on Monday partners of the SMARTIES for SMEs project, in a move that seeks to bolster the competitiveness and resilience of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector.

The initiative, underpinned entirely by European Union funding, seeks to distribute €375,000 among 15 SMEs to foster their green and digital transitions.

Etap emphasised that the project encourages SMEs to apply innovative practices to enhance their operational capabilities. Each selected SME could receive up to €25,000.

Applications are set to open in November 2024, following a meticulous selection process that will gauge the suitability and readiness of the businesses to embark on a more sustainable and technologically advanced path.

Cyprus Deputy Minister of Shipping Marina Hadjimanolis has recognised the significant contributions of maritime agents to Cypriot shipping during an official dinner held on June 14 by the Cyprus Shipping Association.

According to a statement by the association released on Tuesday, the Deputy Minister of Shipping praised maritime agents, acknowledging their essential role in the supply chain and their contributions to the Cypriot shipping industry.

The statement noted that Hadjimanolis highlighted the continuous efforts by the ministry to strengthen the Cypriot shipping registry, which brings numerous positive synergies for port stakeholders.

During the event, the association’s president, Andreas Papadopoulos, referenced the ‘Amalthea’ initiative and expressed the ongoing support of maritime agents in carrying it out, describing it as “highly significant”.

The newly-established Cyprus Financial Literacy and Education Committee (CyFLEC) is set to implement the national strategy for enhancing financial literacy in Cyprus, according to an announcement released on Tuesday by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC).

This follows the completion of discussions on governance structure and the establishment of Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) during the committee’s third board meeting, held on Monday at the Central Bank of Cyprus building in Nicosia.

The CBC statement explained that with the resolution of all pending issues, a memorandum of cooperation was signed by the member authorities on the committee’s board, which came into effect on June 17, 2024.

Additionally, plans were outlined for the next steps in implementing the National Strategy, focusing on enhancing financial literacy in Cyprus. A detailed work schedule was also established to ensure systematic progress.

Cyprus’ Construction Materials Price Index recorded a decrease of 1.32 per cent in May 2024, when compared to the same period from the previous year, according to a report released on Tuesday by the state’s statistical service.

Additionally, for the period of January to May 2024, the index experienced a decline of 1.81 per cent compared to the same period in 2023.

In May 2024, the index stood at 117.35 points, with 2021 acting as the base year, set at 100 points, reflecting a marginal increase of 0.11 per cent compared to the previous month.

In terms of main product categories, there were decreases in metal products (-6.68 per cent), while increases were observed in electromechanical items (3.24 per cent), minerals (1.01 per cent), mineral products (0.49 per cent), and wood, insulation, chemicals, and plastics products (0.30 per cent).

Inflation, as measured by the harmonised index of consumer prices in Cyprus (HICP), has climbed to a six-month peak in May 2024, increasing by 3 per cent compared to the same month in 2023.

This significant rise, outlined by Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat), marks the highest increase since November 2023, further intensifying by 1.2 per cent on a month-on-month basis.

Despite this acceleration in May, it’s noteworthy that the overall harmonised inflation rate from January to May 2024 has remained relatively restrained.

Indeed, the year-on-year increase of 2.2 per cent hovers close to the European Central Bank’s target of approximately 2 per cent.

The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) ended Tuesday, June 18 with profits.

The general Cyprus Stock Market Index was at 164.91 points at 13:15 during the day, reflecting an increase of 1.45 per cent over the previous day of trading.

The FTSE / CySE 20 Index was at 100.31 points, representing a rise of 1.149 per cent.

The total value of transactions came up to €109,571, until the aforementioned time during trading.

In terms of the sub-indexes, the main and investment firm indexes rose by 2.28 per cent and 6.71 per cent respectively. The hotel index remained unchanged while the alternative index fell by 0.29 per cent.

The biggest investment interest was attracted by Demetra (+6.79 per cent), Hellenic Bank (+0.39 per cent), the Bank of Cyprus (-1.44 per cent), Logicom (no change), and Mitsides (-3.85 per cent).