Is it time to turn the page?

The dawn of 2024 found us laying down our hopes and expectations for a “better” year, for prosperity, for health, for tranquility, for personal and professional happiness and progress.

Habitually, these same wishes are expressed every year, however, considering that the last 3-4 years contained a level of uncertainty, difficulty and onus on various fields, then the welcoming wish for 2024 is not a mere cliché but rather a reasonable and genuinely sought after aspiration.

Looking into the new year, we do carry along the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the conflict in Gaza, the escalating tension in the wider Middle East area, the high cost of energy and quest for resources, the inflation and the increased cost of capital, the international trade competition and distortion, coupled by the political uncertainty that 2024 entails. The latter refers to the elections in our country for MEPs and the municipal authorities, the EU-wide elections for the European Parliament and the changes in the EU Commission, and the political scenery in other highly influential countries such as the US, India and Russia for the presidential elections they have, without forgetting the situation in our neighbouring Israel. Inescapably, there may be significant alterations in the current state of political, geostrategic and social affairs, which will have an impact on our country as well, since some are happening in close vicinity.

Coupled with the above, let us not forget the immigration flows which apparently will escalate due to the surging conflicts, as well as the “green transition” and the measures taken in order to be environmentally friendly and adherent to the EU’s Green Deal, thus changing habits and increasing cost.

On the other hand, we cannot just sit and wait for what is about to happen, especially if these are “household” matters. Hopefully, having learned from the lessons of the very recent past (although it may be still present), we need to proceed decisively and steadily towards the day after.

I guess that there should be a long list of items addressed in the government’s agenda. The image and reputation of the country has been seriously tarnished, hence it requires an immediate “polishing” with the appropriate means of course, the financial services sector is still waiting for the introduction of a single authority, the tax reform (or better, transformation, as we like to call it) for the time being remains largely hidden, the introduction of the “green” taxes is also a serious factor to consider, the overall reform of the public sector apparently is not progressing as planned, the digital transformation still has a long way to go to name a few. There are also many other significant matters that require the attention of the state such as social matters and social cohesion, the illegal immigration problems, the combat against corruption and the need to install higher transparency levels, non-performing loans and foreclosures, as well as everything else that affects the economy in general. Of course, it must never slip our attention the efforts made and the political ploys being played, for the resolution of our national problem, relieving thus eventually Cyprus from the occupation and the military threats from Turkey.

The perils for the economy and the society of the country are not over yet. However, we have a duty to administer and manage the risks, the opportunities and the challenges. The mere expression of a general good will, political statements and declarations are surely not enough. There must be action, tangible evidence and determination by the government and the political establishment. There must also be a connection with the business sectors and economy stakeholders for enhanced cooperation, joint efforts, solid and robust planning and, ultimately, clear and identifiable targets, of measurable outcome. We need to witness more initiatives being taken and a closer consultation between all stakeholders. At this important milestone, it is up to the government to pave the way, to lead, to inspire...

The stakes are high, the road ahead is a long one. Unless we have a plan, unless we remain congruent and honest amongst us, unless we act upon meritocracy, transparency and utilisation of the best minds and skills, unless we interpret and understand the broader geopolitical picture in a factual manner and refrain from long gone idealistic superstitions, 2024 will not be the game-changing year we hoped for, but rather a sad procrastination of the previous ones.

So, if we do wholeheartedly wish to eventually turn the page and enter a new, more optimistic, prosperous, and rewarding era, we should rise up to the occasion. Cyprus and its people have many strengths and capabilities, with proven stamina and resilience. Potentially, the knowledge and the commitment are there, yet it is up to each one of us to exhibit the corresponding willpower and determination. It should not be difficult to turn the page, after all, it can be done though a single and simple action…

Kyriakos Iordanou, General Manager of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC)

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