Employers boss demands “no new taxes”

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The Cyprus Federation of Employers and Industrialists have re-elected Antonis Antoniou as their chairman while urging the government to hold back any new taxes, including corporate tax.

The business community fears that tax hikes during economic uncertainty would endanger the economy.

OEB has been fighting off the government’s intention to increase the corporate tax from 12.5% to 15%, fearing Cyprus losing an advantage over competitors as an investment destination.

It has been pushing back since October 2021, when the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreed to set a global corporate minimum tax rate of 15%, effective in 2023.

In his acceptance speech, Antoniou said Cyprus faces an uncertain economic and geopolitical environment.

“Uncertainty concerns and affects daily life, businesses, governments, and the entire international community.

“That is why we must, more than ever before, ensure a strong, healthy and resilient economy capable of facing unforeseen events,” said Antoniou.

He argued that the island’s business-friendly tax environment is one of the country’s strongest competitive advantages, as it does not have a strong production base.

“It is for this reason that OEB insists that Cyprus cannot increase the corporate tax rate to 15%, especially when the international orientation is to impose 15% only on those companies with an annual turnover of more than €750 mln.”

Antoniou also said that OEB believes Cyprus could lose its advantage over competitors as an investment destination if the corporate tax is tweaked upwards.

“Cyprus’ tax system, which has been almost unchanged for 20 years, needs to be reformed and simplified, considering the introduction of ‘green taxes’.

“However, the tax reform must result from a holistic approach, away from piecemeal and hasty moves.

“The aim of the reform should be not only to cover national green tax obligations with equivalent compensatory measures to achieve a zero net effect but also to make the tax framework more efficient and attractive to Cypriot and international businesses,” said Antoniou.

Antoniou was born in London.

He studied at Birkbeck University, London, where he obtained a BSc (Hons) degree in Biology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science.

Since February 2008, he has been the Executive Chair of Vassiliko Cement Works Public Company Limited.

Antoniou has been a member of the OEB’s board since July 2011 and the Executive Committee since December 2013. He was first elected as OEB’s chair in January 2021.