/

A year of political inertia

2733 views
3 mins read

The past year hardly put a smile on anyone’s face.

Struggling to recover from the Covid-aftermath, Russia invaded Ukraine just as everyone prepared for a year of recovery.

Due to the lack of supplies, it unleashed a chain reaction that brought many economies to their knees.

Commodity prices, raw materials and energy sources spiralled, raising costs for almost all products and services, making Cyprus, once again, uncompetitive in the tourism sector, with the industry bracing for a disastrous season reminiscent of the post-Gulf War crisis.

However, the tourists kept coming, despite losing visitors from Russia and Ukraine, and the sector was salvaged, albeit with a far smaller profit margin for hoteliers and tour operators.

The same is expected to continue into 2023, with next summer expected to see near-record arrivals but with lower spending.

The sanctions forced one bank, RCB, to close, while Hellenic saw a change in its shareholders, with Eurobank’s arrival on the scene having a positive impact.

Yet, the issue of non-performing loans will continue to hamper profitability, as restructuring good loans amid a crisis will result in many performing mortgages and debts turning negative yet again.

Fuel prices also surged, impacting almost every business and professional in Cyprus, restating the urgency to turn to clean energy and disengaging from crude imports, as the conversion of power stations to natural gas is still delayed.

At least the EuroAsia interconnector got an official send-off, and the project is moving fast to narrow the gap of expensive locally produced electricity.

And through all this, the political scene started to heat up, with the outgoing administration producing three candidates for next February’s presidential elections, the only clear outcome being the gradual disintegration of the ruling Disy party.

The poor handling of the Cyprus problem has frustrated many voters, who are unsure whether to go to the polls.

In contrast, the tolerance of Turkey’s antics, mainly by European Union partners, has pushed many more to a hard line, diminishing any support for a solution.

With the number of candidates already exceeding a dozen and lacking clarity on almost all policy issues, the only way forward would be for some parties and candidates to reconsider running.

They should give way to individuals with the desire and vision to take this country forward, unhindered by political baggage, focusing on the economy’s prime issues, tackling corruption and reviving hopes of finding a viable solution to the Cyprus problem.