Cyprus’ President, Nikos Christodoulides, on Tuesday said that the need to safeguard the name of Cyprus as a reliable business and financial centre, especially after the recent sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Kingdom on Cypriot businessmen, was “a bet and a top priority”.

He also said that one of the important reforms that will be promoted is the establishment of a National Development Organisation, so that Cypriot companies can enjoy alternative financing and opportunities to make use of a series of financial tools.

In his speech at the 62nd Annual General Assembly of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB), President Christodoulides said that, the Government, is taking, from the first moment, all the necessary actions, “always in cooperation with the supervisory bodies” as well as the American and British Authorities to preserve the reputation of the country.

“All of us must approach this issue with absolute seriousness and see it as an opportunity so that there is no shadow of a doubt about business activities in our country”, he stressed.

Referring to the Cyprus issue, the President emphasised that the EU can offer all parties involved in the Cyprus issue, “those incentives and benefits, thus, leading through the resolution of the Cyprus issue to a mutually acceptable state of affairs.”

An important parameter for the development of the country and the number one priority was the resolution of the Cyprus problem, “the liberation and reunification of our homeland always on the basis of the agreed framework”, he said, adding that, since the first day of assuming his duties, he has been working towards a more active role on the part of the EU.

The President of the Republic expressed the hope that, “immediately after the elections in Turkey, there will be such developments, conditions that will allow us to resume the dialogue from where it left off in Crans-Montana, so that we can achieve a solution that will reunite our people, the institutions and the economy in our country.”

President Christodoulides also said that, as the new Government of the country, they were looking forward to the contribution and cooperation of businesses “in our effort to effectively address the challenges and create a resilient economy.”

Regarding the developments in the field of the digital and green transitions, President Christodoulides said that “we must ensure that both the State and Cypriot businesses will transform and respond successfully to these new conditions.”

He said that the new vision for the economy and society will be implemented through the long-term strategy for the sustainable development of Cyprus “Vision 2035”, adding that the goal was to expand the productive base of the economy through the transition of existing sectors to more dynamic forms of development and the promotion of new productive sectors, such as technology, research, which will create new and quality jobs.”

The President also said that, the Government will work to implement important reforms decided by the previous administration, such as those for the Public Service, justice and local government, with the aim, among others, of improving the business environment.

He also referred to the creation of a fully digital State and the change of culture in the public sector as well as the modernisation and simplification of the tax system, aligning the tax policies with the objectives of the European Green Deal, and attracting foreign companies and promoting connection with foreign ecosystems and exploiting the dynamics of the digital economy, among other things.

In relation to the rising levels of inflation, President Christodoulides said that the aim “is to provide targeted financial support to vulnerable groups, while maintaining fiscal discipline”, adding that recently it was decided to extend specific horizontal measures, such as subsidies for electricity consumption and reduced consumption tax rates on motor and heating fuels.

Referring to the OEB, President Christodoulides said that the Federation contributes both to economic progress, but also to the promotion of innovative proposals regarding entrepreneurship.

In his speech, Chairman of OEB, Antonis Antoniou, said that the main challenge is for the entire ecosystem in which businesses operate, to acquire the corresponding flexibility and adaptability businesses exhibit, in order for businesses, to be efficient in their operation and rewarding for the national economy.

Antoniou also said that “we must, more than ever, ensure a strong, healthy and resilient economy capable of facing unforeseen events”. He referred to the current state of the economy and particularly to the high inflationary pressures plaguing businesses and added that “the introduction of any tax, tariff or other measures that will further burden the operating costs of businesses, should be postponed until there is a normalisation of these pressures”.

Vice President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Othonas Theodoulou, in his own speech, referred to the main problems faced such as the uncertainty in the international financial environment, the high energy costs, the rising inflation, the increase in interest rates, the lack of workforce and the new demands of the trade unions for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the minimum wage, the delay in implementing reforms and red tape.

“Despite the various problems, we are optimistic about the future of our economy,” he added.

Theodoulou also said that it was necessary to make “critical decisions” for vital sectors to resolve chronic structural weaknesses, and to accelerate digitisation in the entire spectrum of the State.

At the Annual General Assembly Antonis Antoniou was re-elected OEB Chairman.

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