By Nikos Christodoulides
This is the second “Foreign Investors Dialogue with the Government” event that the Government is co-organising with Invest Cyprus, in the framework of our policy for a continuous dialogue and aftercare of our foreign investors.
At the first event which took place in June 2023, just three months after assuming office, we had the opportunity for an honest and in-depth discussion with a smaller group of investors, about the challenges they face and improvements they would like to see when doing business in Cyprus. The members of my Government took good note of all the feedback we received and took action. During the past months, we have been working diligently to be able to provide solutions and a better business environment in our country.
I want to stress, from the onset of this event, that we consider you as partners in our efforts. We value your opinion since you have firsthand experience on how our policies and our procedures work and a unique understanding of the dynamic interplay between governmental decisions and market forces and you can support the Government navigate a landscape marked by challenges and opportunities alike.
A stable and thriving economy is a prerequisite for the success of any investment or business, forming the fundamental condition for sustainable growth and prosperity.
We are optimistic about the trajectory of the Cyprus economy. The positive performance is confirmed by the successive upgrades from rating agencies, which are all now placing us in an investment-grade category. Their decisions constitute a recognition for the responsible and non-populist economic policies we have been promoting and represent a vote of confidence in the government’s plans. However, we are by no means complacent.
Through this responsible approach, we have formulated the government’s first budget for 2024. A budget of broad parliamentary approval, representative of our political priorities. Growth-driven, focused on reforms, fiscal balance, and social justice.
Our Government has already outlined a clear policy direction towards the creation of a new economic model focusing on the attraction of productive investments, which can contribute to the double transition – green and digital – and to the creation of a knowledge economy. We aim to continuously improve the variables for attracting foreign investment with significant added value and contribution towards long-term growth and prosperity in the economy and the society. Establishing Cyprus as an attractive investment destination and business centre is one of the top priorities of my Government.
Task not easy
Our task is not easy. We live in the era of globalisation whereby disruptive developments have become the new norm. While geopolitical tensions continue to persist, we are expected to take actions that will mitigate the uncertainty.
It is therefore crucial for us to have a clear plan in place, prioritising the effective implementation of measures, steering away from policies that have created legacies in the past. Cyprus’ reputation as a credible and reliable business centre was occasionally threatened, hampering its competitiveness. I want to assure you that this is a priority issue for which we are taking concrete steps to address, demonstrating zero tolerance for practices that expose our country internationally.
More specifically, the Government is continually strengthening the institutional framework related to the supervision of financial and professional services, the implementation of sanctions, and the overall fight against money laundering from illegal activities.
In the same direction, a comprehensive package of measures has been adopted for the more effective management of information on sanction-related issues, reinforcing financial intelligence, evaluating the legislative framework, and making suggestions for improvement.
Additionally, steps are being taken to establish a Single Supervisory Authority for professional services. In response to this and your concerns, we are implementing an integrated communication plan for Cyprus branding, focusing on effective communication of our progress in combating money laundering and highlighting Cyprus’ competitive advantages.
Since the beginning of my administration, we have been actively implementing the Strategy for Attracting Investment and Talent in Cyprus, a successful Strategy adopted by the previous government, with very positive results. Following your suggestions last June, we have revised the Strategy to better reflect the real needs of potential and existing investors.
New actions have been added, such as the adoption of the Blue Card, the implementation of the “Strategic Development Projects Facilitation Law of 2023”, the launch of a build-to-rent program, and the digitisation of procedures related to company registration and obtaining the required licenses for Renewable Energy projects.
Last week, I presented the Governance Programme for 2024, featuring more than 80 concrete actions. This is the first time that a Government’s Annual Action Plan has been announced in advance, contributing significantly to transparency and accountability.
The Action Plan is based on six key pillars. First, the improvement of everyday life of citizens by tackling bureaucracy, promoting digital transformation, and addressing chronic problems such as migration and traffic. Second, ensuring a strong and resilient economy. Third, laying the foundations for a better tomorrow with education and health at the heart of our efforts. Fourth, is the green transition. Fifth, the modernisation and restructuring of the state through the strengthening of institutions. And sixth, making Cyprus a strong partner both in the European Union and in the wider region.
The annual presentation of the Governance Programme is a practice that I commit to continue throughout my term. Through this process, I have already announced my intention to ensure a strong economy and improve access to funding for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed individuals.
In this context, the presentation of a roadmap for the establishment of a National Development Agency is expected within 2024, which through financial and guarantee tools will finance SMEs and investments related to digital and energy transformation. Within the same framework, I have announced a number of initiatives that will improve everyday life and a number of incentives for the green transition of businesses and households. Producing green and cheap energy is a primary objective.
Μy main message to you is this. The Government values your presence and commitment in Cyprus and sees you as valuable partners in our growth path. We are dedicated to going above and beyond to foster an economic and business environment that induces you to accomplish your goals, to grow and expand; an environment that not only meets but exceeds your expectations.
This dialogue is not a mere formality but a steadfast commitment. We will regularly engage with you to bring our shared vision to fruition, envisioning Cyprus as not just a remarkable destination, but one of the best places globally to live, work, and conduct business. Your participation in this journey is pivotal, and together, we shall script a compelling success story for Cyprus.
Speech by President Nikos Christodoulides at the “Foreign Investors Dialogue with the Government” event