Demetris Sparsis: Foreign investors are trusting Cyprus again

Invest Cyprus Board Member Demetris Sparsis believes that, in the long run, Cyprus will recover its good name, something full compliance with the directives of the European Union and the coordinated actions of the Government to restore the reputation of our country Cyprus have greatly contributed to.

In an interview with InBusinessNews, Sparsis indicates that, in this regard, foreign investors, seeing and perceiving the efforts made by the Government, are again consistently giving Cyprus a vote of confidence.

"The blow was significant, but in my opinion it is reversible," he points out, announcing important and major actions for the rebranding of Cyprus through an action plan that will be undertaken in coordination between the public and private sectors.

Noting that the coordinating role of Invest Cyprus is important and necessary for the convergence of the public and private sectors in the promotion of Cyprus as an excellent destination to live and work today and in the future, Demetris Sparsis at the same time identifies the fields in which Cyprus will focus on achieving this goal.

"If we need to improve somewhere," he explains, "it is our response towards the creation of schools for the children of all those who decide to transfer their work to Cyprus, since there is a significant shortage here, as well as in the provision of housing in economic terms that make the island competitive."

The Cypriot economy, as shown by the numbers and as confirmed by the evaluations of international houses, is moving in the right direction. What is your reading of the current situation and, more importantly, its prospects?

I agree with you that the Cypriot economy is in a recovery phase and most economic indicators prove this to be true. In addition, international houses speak favorably of Cyprus, since the assessments reposition our economy in a position of healthy growth with continued improvement of macroeconomic imbalances.

I believe that if we a) continue to strengthen the productive sectors of our economy by providing incentives and channeling labour to sectors that are developing and b) at the same time limit public, private and foreign debt we will see better days with possibilities for further economic development.

Although our net international investment position remains negative, I report that we have improved significantly and are approaching investment grade.

At the same time, the wars in Ukraine with the invasion of Russia and in the Gaza Strip with the ongoing attack by Israel from 10 October, 2023 are creating conditions of insecurity at the global level and their shocks are negatively affecting the economy of Cyprus. Our economy is characterized by resilience, but we should await the developments hoping for better days in conditions of peace and security.

Our Government should continue unhindered efforts to attract foreign investments and at the same time absorb funds from the structural funds of the European Union.

I remind you that through the far-reaching ‘Vision Cyprus 2035’ we aspire for Cyprus to be one of the best countries in the world where one lives, works and creates in conditions of security and transparency.

Fiscal discipline, a stable financial system and structural reforms are the government's economic policy tripartite aimed at macroeconomic stability and resilience. Do you agree that this is the ideal recipe for achieving the goals set and especially for the formation and implementation of a new development model?

The economic policy of the Government is distinguished by fiscal discipline with considerable credit from the competent European Commission, demonstrating at the same time flexibility and correct responses with key interventions in the weak economic strata of society by providing relief and/or incentives to alleviate the problems of daily life.

The stable financial system is a shield and guarantee for further development of the economy and ensures the confidence required to attract investments.

Structural reforms in this area are necessary and I believe that the Government must play a greater role in order to provide quick and effective solutions to the problems that plague the economy and are slowing down the development of our country.

Attracting quality foreign investments

A key pillar of the new development model that is being talked about is obviously the promotion of entrepreneurship and of course the attraction of quality foreign investments. In your capacity and as a member of the Board of Directors of Invest Cyprus, how far is our country from becoming the ideal destination to work, live and develop business?

We are some way off, despite the ambitious and important efforts we are making, both through Invest Cyprus and through the competent Ministries involved.

It is worth mentioning that the current Government - and specifically the Presidency of the Republic in collaboration with Invest Cyprus - for the first time organised two important meetings with investors active in our island and listened to the problems they face in their daily lives and in the smooth conduction of their work.

The relevant Ministries listened and took action, informing all stakeholders at a very satisfactory level, thus building a two-way relationship of communication and interaction for the good of our country and the development of investments in priority sectors.

In conclusion, I believe that the coordinating role of Invest Cyprus is important and necessary for bringing together the public and private sectors in promoting Cyprus as an excellent destination to live and work today and in the future.

If we need to improve somewhere, it is our responses towards the creation of schools for the children of all those who decide to transfer their work to Cyprus, since there is a significant shortage here, as well as in the provision of housing in economic terms that make our island competitive.

Exactly what more could be done and what policies should be developed and implemented in order to achieve the goal of attracting even more foreign investment? And in which areas of business activity do you see fertile ground for such a thing?

As I mentioned above, our actions should be continuous and tireless with a focus on serving all those who live and work on our island, since in my opinion they are the best Ambassadors.

Both the CEO and all the administrative staff of Invest Cyprus, as well as the Chairman and the members of the Board of Directors, are aware of these realities and try to remain by the side of our foreign investors.

The speed with which we respond to their constant requests, ie. schools and housing, but also the provision of work and residence permits to investors are priority areas for all those involved in the subject.

At the same time, the continuous increase in the connectivity of our island with more and more destinations helps a lot in creating a positive image and practically develops the provision of opportunities for the transfer of foreign companies to Cyprus.

Fertile ground for further development remains the fields of technology as well as the fields of education at a tertiary level, as well as the provision of specialised medical advice and treatment.

The blow to the reputation of Cyprus

How big was the blow caused by the well-known events that, rightly or wrongly, tarnished the reputation of Cyprus abroad in recent years? Did we, for example, miss out on potential investments?

The blow was significant, but in my opinion it is reversible. We probably lost some investments and the good name that the private and public sector has worked hard and methodically to build has been shaken.

In the long run, I believe that Cyprus will recover its good name, and our full compliance with the European Union directives and the coordinated actions of the Government to restore our reputation have significantly helped in this.

Our active participation in exhibitions to attract foreign investment, the procedures for quick assessment of foreign investors' requirements, but also the participation of all involved bodies in public and private sector cooperation show the way to restoring our good name.

Today, what is the perspective with which foreign investors see our country? Do you see the climate changing, given the efforts made by the government to restore Cyprus’ reputation and good name?

Cyprus has gone through a lot and managed to survive in the most adverse conditions from the time of the establishment of the Republic until today and I feel that there is no reason to dwell on the past, but to focus on the present and the future.

As Einstein said, in my free translation, we cannot continue to operate in the same way, think with the same minds following the same practices and expect different results.

As the President of the Republic constantly mentions, no citizen and no institution is above the good name of Cyprus and its good reputation and today there is this opportunity after we have reached the bottom to work collectively and creatively, for the public and private sector to overturn bad practices of the past and to improve living conditions for locals and foreigners.

I believe that we all feel the conscious effort made by the Government with all the tools it has in its quiver to change and cut off clientelistic practices that cost the country and tarnished our name.

I am able to know through Invest Cyprus that foreign investors see and understand all these efforts of ours and are consistently giving a vote of confidence to our country again.

Our concern is the continuation of these efforts and specific actions for the change of culture and mentality that Cyprus needs so much.

Action plan for the rebranding of Cyprus

Finally, we would like your opinion on how the intended rebranding of Cyprus could be achieved in the best possible way, so that our island ranks high in the choices of foreign investors for the establishment and operation of their companies?

We are at the stage of evaluating important and major actions for the rebranding of Cyprus and allow me today not to go into details of the action plan that will be undertaken in coordination of the public and private sectors.

I feel optimistic about the outcome of this project and look forward to its swift and effective implementation.

(Source: InBusinessNews)

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