New applications for investments in exchange for Cypriot passports are on a downward trend, possibly as a result of new stricter rules applied under European Union (EU) pressure, an official involved in the program said on Friday.
Kyriakos Koundouros, director of Interior Ministry’s Town Planning Department, told Cypriot web-site StrockwatchCy that the number of new investments is greatly reduced in relation to the two previous years.
“New measures introduced in May by the government to pacify European Union concerns leads to a delay in processing applications and this may lead to fewer investments in exchange for passports,” Koundouros said.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades, in a rare public announcement on the issue, said in February that between 2013 and the end of 2018 the government approved 1,864 applications, involving transactions totaling 6.6 billion euros.
Most of the investors were Russians, who centered on the southern city of Limassol, and Chinese, who showed a big interest for investment in the western tourist city of Paphos and to a lesser extend in Limassol.
Costas Hadjipanayiotou, director of the Environment Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said that there are several applications under scrutiny, but added that no new applications have been received so far.
His department is involved in the process as each transaction must pass environmental criteria.
The president of the association of property owners, George Mouskides, said he believed that the downward trend in investing in property is a wider trend affecting investments not only in Cyprus, but also in many other countries.
“The new stricter rules applied since May is probably having a negative effect on those who are interested to acquire a Cypriot passport. But we have to wait until the end of the year to be certain about that,” he said.