The generally accepted dictionary meaning of the word treason is “the breaking of moral commitment for personal benefit, cause of damage by fraud and damage to one’s country”.
We will concentrate on the treason that various parties/persons are committing against the Cyprus economy as a result of the Al Jazeera reports regarding the passports issue.
It is generally accepted that the Cyprus investment scheme, which includes the issue of passports to foreign investors, was quite loose, but it was a necessary measure which helped towards the recovery from the tragic year of 2013 when the economy went almost bankrupt.
Now the very same people and some political parties (mainly the left-wing) who caused the 2013 economic disaster and others, are quite loud in knocking this measure, demanding its abolition/postponement.
Instead of all of us joining together to act as a single voice to protect the investment programme, we note the actions of the various parties suggesting ending it.
Yes, it is agreed that the programme for passports was quite relaxed and we wrote in this paper our objection to the many wrongdoings by developers primarily, as well as others.
We suggested one year ago to impose a fine of €500,000/case for these wrongdoings, including the inexcusable adverts in the local and international media.
The looseness was realised a bit late by the Government, which now is trying to tidy up the situation, but small politics being what they are is knocking the scheme in general with one eye on gaining votes.
Yes, the main beneficiaries of the scheme were the developers, but also, the various professional firms which were promoting it (including accountants/lawyers) with the end benefit of approximately €7 bln in foreign earnings, went down to builders (contractors), subcontractors, labour force, suppliers and others.
Starting from the purchase of homes, some investors expanded their initial investment by investing in hotels and tourist projects, marinas, golf courses etc.
As we have said, we agree that the scheme, as it was originally introduced, was quite loose, but instead of improving it, the new measures suggested, will now reach the stage that it will not be attractive to foreign investors, to the enjoyment of our competitor countries, which have a similar scheme.
With the prevailing economic situation, due to the virus, we will need another 1½-2½ years for the scheme to be extended to help the economy repay the millions that Cyprus borrowed from the EU and until the tourist industry gets back to its previous performance (not expected before 2022).
The passports measure was introduced by the Papadopoulos government in 2007, followed by the Christofias government (be it with very cold feet) and it was fully developed under the Anastasiades administration.
As the scheme developed it became a vehicle to subsidise Government Housing Development, the innovation industries, whereas the existing high-end development projects which appeal primarily to foreign investors (the towers/marinas/golf) have now limited chances to attract buyers and we may come to see incomplete projects.
The result, we may have many empty development projects and all the various side-effects that this will have (bank finances may have a problem including the increase of NPLs, something which is most worrying).
Al Jazeera reported that we provided 5,000 Cyprus passports, whereas the securing of passports through fraud etc. is not expected to be more than 30-50 (we wonder if this number is so large that it requires the scheme’s abolition?).
Not really, but then we have the economy traitors, who without any reservation have passed on 1,400 confidential documents to this broadcaster, helping to destroy the Cyprus economy. It seems that the disclosure of these classified documents came from our MPs which as we know, are not what they should be in their quality and performance.
We do not have high hopes that the police investigation on the matter will come up with any conclusive results since we expect the interference of political parties to block/alter the investigation.
We have little chance of getting our economy back on track and the Minister of Interior has been less than convincing on the subject.