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30-05-2023 20:12

Address by the President of the Republic Mr Nikos Christodoulides at the ICAEW event at the British High Commissioner’s Residence today

We are very proud of the industry of chartered accounting in Cyprus, we know very well how important it is for the Cypriot economy and, as the new Government, I assure them that we will stand by their side and work together.

It is with pleasure that I address tonight’s event in the presence of distinguished professionals, members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and of course the Institute’s Chief Executive.  

Tonight’s event coincides with the very first months of our term as a new Government, during which we are working on enhancing the foundations of our economy, through implementing our five-year economic plan as part of the long-term strategy “Vision 2035”.  

My vision is for Cyprus to be a model state, with favorable conditions for attracting investment and promoting entrepreneurship; a reliable, credible business and financial center, free from mistakes of the past; and a social, fair state that safeguards a high standard of living for its citizens. A country that takes determined, bold steps forward, utilizing the potential of technology. A country that innovates and sets the bar high for the digital and green transition. A country that can respond to global geopolitical, economic and other challenges quickly and efficiently.

To achieve this vision, we have developed a Governance Program that is already on implementation track and includes specific interventions and actions.

The long-term strategy that I have referred to, “Vision 2035", is a key axis of our policies, through which we aim to expand and diversify the productive base of our economy. The overarching aim is to support the traditional sectors of the economy, so that they become more dynamic and resilient and, at the same time, to encourage the development of emerging sectors.

In this framework, we will continue on the path of implementation of important reforms, such as the public service, justice and local government reforms, which directly affect the daily operation of businesses. At the same time, we are working on actions to support businesses for digital and green investments and for research and innovation, utilizing European funding opportunities.

Another important priority is the reform and modernization of our tax system. The core aim here is to strengthen the competitiveness of Cyprus and reduce the administrative burden for taxpayers and businesses, while ensuring a fairer redistribution of the tax burden. At the same time, we will ensure alignment of the tax policy with the objectives outlined of the European Green Deal.

Digital transformation is another area of focus, as we work on strengthening the country's digital infrastructure, promoting the use of digital technologies and stimulating the digital economy.

Another core element of our strategy is green transition. We will continue to invest in renewable energy, renewables storage, sustainable transport and energy efficiency, which are vital to reducing our country's carbon footprint, in full compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate change. During this transition, it is important to ensure adequate support for businesses, while creating growth opportunities for them.

Underpinning our endeavors and reforms is a steadfast commitment to nurturing and supporting the human capital of Cyprus. We recognize that our highly skilled labor force – a lot of them are UK trained – is one of our nation's most valuable assets. It is therefore imperative to continue investing on our labor force, by prioritizing education, professional development and continuous learning. Through targeted initiatives, we aim to connect our educational system with our economy and to attract and retain top talent, while also fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity.

I am delighted to note how these values resonate with the modern chartered accountancy profession, which plays a vital role in our country’s growth. The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC), our national body, has enjoyed a strong and positive collaboration with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) since its establishment in 1961. Many Chartered Accountants have served as Presidents and council members of ICPAC, highlighting the profession's commitment to excellence and leadership.

Within this context, allow me to acknowledge and celebrate the ICAEW's remarkable 30 years of presence in Cyprus. With 130 authorized training employers, 3,000 ICAEW Chartered Accountants and 700 trainees, the profession serves as a vital pillar of support for the Cypriot economy. Through their expertise, they support and represent some of our country's strategic leaders, helping drive economic growth and ensuring financial stability. Moreover, the profession's dedication to nurturing young talent ensures a robust pipeline of future professionals, securing the continuous growth and prosperity of our country.

At times of complex challenges, collaboration between the public and private sectors is key to achieving real and sustainable progress. The ICAEW has a long-standing collaboration with the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Treasury of the Republic of Cyprus, working together on matters concerning public finances. It is my firm belief that by combining our efforts, we can foster an environment where businesses thrive, the economy prospers and society flourishes. In this regard, the ICAEW's collaboration with state and private universities in Cyprus is instrumental in supporting the attractiveness of educational programs in our country, contributing to our aspirations of becoming a regional education hub.

At the same time, it is true that trust in institutions has been put to the test worldwide. It is crucial that we uphold the integrity and credibility of our institutions, particularly professional bodies, to ensure the continued service of the public interest. The ICAEW, as a trusted professional body, plays a pivotal role in upholding ethical standards, promoting transparency, and maintaining the highest levels of professionalism in the field of accountancy. Their dedication to fostering trust is commendable and aligns with our Government's commitment to strengthening institutions for the benefit of society.

Before concluding, I would like to refer to the recent sanctions imposed by the UK and the US on Cypriot natural persons and legal entities. This development hinders the reputation of our country and is an additional challenge that we must collectively address. This issue is a top priority for my Government. From the first moment, we are taking all the necessary actions, in cooperation with all the national supervisory bodies, including the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus, as well as the British and U.S. Authorities, to fully restore the credibility of our country.

In concluding, I wish to underline that safeguarding the credibility and reputation of Cyprus as a financial centre is a sine qua non for this Government. Developments in recent weeks have been received as an opportunity by this Government to take concrete actions, always in close cooperation with our partners and the relevant national supervisory bodies.

We count on and welcome the cooperation with ICAEW and ICPAC, ensuring that the accountancy profession continues to serve public interest and be a contributing driving force for economic growth.