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Keravnos: “Our vision is for Cyprus to be one of the best countries to live, work and do business”

Finance Minister Makis Keravnos said the government’s vision was for Cyprus to be one of the best countries to live, work and do business in, as he addressed the “Foreign Investors Dialogue with Government: From feedback to action” at the Presidential Palace.

The meeting was a followup to a roundtable held between the government, Invest Cyprus and foreign investors active on the island last June.

“Taking into account the recommendations put forward in the first roundtable discussion, the Ministry of Finance in cooperation with the competent services and other ministries, took new initiatives to address the issues that you raised,” Keravnos said addressing the investors.

He stood specifically at the creation of the newly-established Business Facilitation Unit (BFU) which he said was an integral part of the Government’s Strategy for attracting investment and talent.

The BFU, said Keravnos is an integrated service to investors that includes: facilitation on the entire investment value chain; guidance regarding the necessary permits for the activation/expansion or establishment of businesses in Cyprus; facilitation on licensing and permits and coordination across the various ministries and departments; as well as the provision of information and support on available investor schemes/funding opportunities – among other things.

It also helps with the registration of companies in the Register of Companies with Foreign Interests, in order to take full advantage of the governmental incentives with regards to employing highly-skilled personnel from third countries.

According to the minister, registrations of foreign interests’ companies by the BFU totalled 1,640 in 2022, 286 in 2023 while this year so far, there have already been 60 new registrations. The investments originated mostly from Lebanon, Israel, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA, and Russia.

This was largely facilitated by the implementation back in November of the E-system for registration of companies in the Register of Companies with Foreign Interests.

Another important measures, said Keravnos, was the introduction of a One Stop Shop for Renewable Energy Projects. “The Digital One Stop Shop for Renewable Energy Projects guides the applicant and facilitates the entire administrative process, so that the applicant is not obliged to contact other administrative bodies in order to complete the permit-granting process,” he explained. “All the stakeholders of a project will use the platform to submit the necessary applications and/or exchange application- necessary documents.”

According to the minister, the current administrative process involves many different authorities and the duration of the process varies depending on the technologies. The administrative authorisation procedure may take 18 months for ground-mounted PV installations (up to 15 months for a 100 kW PV system) and 20 or more months for onshore wind projects. “The platform bridges the gap between the public and the administrative authorities and the technical personnel involved in the undertaking of a RES project, with the aim to speed- up the licensing process.”

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