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01-07-2022 21:13

Address by the President of the Republic Mr Nicos Anastasiades at the Cyprus International Investment Awards

It is a great pleasure to address the Annual Cyprus International Investment Awards which takes place for the 10th time, demonstrating that it has been firmly established as a highly successful event.  

An event thorough which we are provided with the opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all of you, the foreign investors who have placed your support and trust in Cyprus, bringing added value to our economy and the efforts to excel as an international investment destination.

It also provides us with the opportunity to present our strategy on further improving the entrepreneurial environment, as well as to exchange ideas and proposals on establishing Cyprus as a prosperous, reliable and competitive business hub.

These past years can only be characterized as unpredictable and uncertain. Following the end of the pandemic, with its well-known socio-economic consequences, and the return to normalcy, stability and growth, we are now facing a new challenge as a result of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, with high fuel prices and rising inflation.

At the same time, the sanctions we have imposed at a European level on Russia have also brought another negative impact on economic activity in the island, especially on tourism, banking and services exports, taking into account our connection with Russia in these fields.  

Nonetheless, we remain optimistic that, based on the prudent financial and economic management, as well as the constant differentiation of our development model, we will also be able to address this challenge.

We have proven the resilience of the Cyprus’ economy in times of crisis, both in 2013 and during the pandemic and I have I no doubt that we will emerge even stronger from the current crisis we are facing.

To this end, each and every one of you present tonight constitute an integral part to this effort, particularly in establishing Cyprus as a reliable and attractive business hub, keen on providing the conditions under which any investor can thrive.

This is a continuous effort, with the necessary introduction of new measures so as to adopt to an increasingly competitive and constantly changing international environment.

You are well-aware of numerous decisions and incentives that are already in place for attracting foreign investments and establishing a more effective and business – friendly environment, so I will refrain from repeating them.

What I feel obliged to refer to, are our immediate short and medium-term relevant plans.

First:  We have prepared a new package of tax incentives so as to enhance our attractiveness to foreign investors and skilled professionals, which I hope next week will be approved by the Parliament.

These, amongst others, include:

•  A 50% tax exemption for employees receiving more than 55 thousand euros, instead of a 100 hundred thousand euros that was in force.

• The time period for which the tax exemption would be applicable will be extended from 10 to 17 years.

• Additionally, the above terms will also be applied retroactively to current eligible employees earning more than 55 thousand euros in annual wages, provided that they resided abroad for 12 consecutive years before they started working in Cyprus.

• A grace period of 2 years will be given to new employees, as well as a grace period of 6 months to existing workers, in order for them to acquire the required prerequisite criteria for the scheme. This concerns cases where an employee's initial remuneration started at an amount below the minimum annual salary.

Second:  During a roundtable discussion I held last November with many of you present tonight I announced the Government’s new strategy for attracting international companies and businesses and for already established ones in expanding their activities in the island, with emphasis placed on the fields of High Technology, Shipping, Innovation, Research and Development.

A strategy which includes, inter alia:

  • The transformation of the existing Fast Track Business Activation Mechanism into a Business Facilitation Unit, with a central contact point for businesses and the digitalization of procedures.
  • The revision, broadening and simplification of the policy employment of third country highly skilled nationals and support staff, as well the right to family reunification.
  • The simplification and speeding up of the process for granting Long Term Resident Status.
  • The introduction of Digital Nomad Visa for third-country nationals that are self – employed or salaried employees and work remotely with employers/clients outside Cyprus, through the use of information and communication technologies.
  • New tax incentives to existing or new non domicile employees, as well as for investments in innovative companies and for research and development.

Another extremely important policy which falls within our aim of achieving sustainable development is our plan “Cyprus of tomorrow” with an overall budget of 4.4 billion euros, comprising the main European Funds, namely the Recovery and Resilience Funds and the Cohesion Funds.

A plan with the key strategic goal of strengthening the economy’s resilience and the country’s potential for economically, socially and environmentally sustainable long-term growth and welfare.

In particular, the plan, amongst others, includes several measures aiming at diversifying the growth sources and improving productivity, as well as a wide set of investments and grants in physical and human capital.

It also includes the simplification of the procedures for conducting business, improving the regulatory framework regarding investment and entrepreneurial activity, as well as increasing intensity on research and development, for businesses, including by enhancing financial support to start-ups and scale-ups. 

What is equally important is that through the implementation of the Plan key structural challenges that Cyprus is facing will be addressed by numerous reforms which are being promoted and will support the competitiveness of the business environment, such as:

•      Increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and administrative capacity of public and local administration.

•      Improving the quality and efficiency of the justice system through accelerating the delivery of justice and reducing the backlog of cases.

•      Opening up of the electricity market and facilitating the licensing of renewable energy and renovation projects.  

•      Digitalizing all public services, including of the justice system.

I wish to once more reiterate that improving the business environment remains one of our most important priorities since we strongly believe that attracting foreign investments is one of the key drivers of economic growth, particularly in periods of intense international competition and of great challenges.

In this demanding endeavour, we are grateful to have devoted and equally strong-willed allies, such as Invest Cyprus, which has been operating as credible and reliable partner throughout our efforts.

To this end, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Organisation’s Board of Directors for their hard work and also wish every success to the newly-appointed President of the Organisation, Mr. Evgenios Evgeniou, who succeeds Mr. Yiannis Matsis whom I would like to thank for his significant contribution in establishing Cyprus as a truly attractive investment destination.

Before concluding I would like to congratulate and thank not only the winners of this year’s awards, but also every single investor for your invaluable contribution in our efforts and vision to establish Cyprus as a world-class investment destination.

Once more I would like to reiterate that my Government stands ready to offer any assistance deemed necessary in order to facilitate your business plans and investment initiatives.