Cyprus president unveils ‘ambitious’ economic stimulus plan

Business

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus’ president on Monday unveiled a 4.4 billion-euro ($5.34 billion) economic stimulus plan, which he described as the “most ambitious ever” in the country’s 61-year history as an independent republic.

Nicos Anastasiades said the five-pronged plan is projected to add another 7% to the gross domestic product over the next five years and at least 11,000 new jobs in the European Union-member country with a population of approximately 875,000.

“The plan, ‘Cyprus — The Next Day’ is a courageous step forward and a new and necessary development model for the future,” Anastasiades told reporters.

“It’s the road map for the post-COVID-19 era,” he said.

Anastasiades said the plan would draw 1.2 billion euros in funding from the EU-approved Recovery and Resilience program, 1.8 billion euros from the EU’s Structural and Investment Funds as well as a projected 1.4 billion euros in private investment or collaborations between the private and public sectors.

The plan will channel funding to five broad areas — public health, boosting the “green” economy, bolstering competitiveness, conversion into a digital economy and investing in human capital.

Although short on details, Anastasiades offered several examples of how the plan will unfold.

For instance, the plan foresees modernizing and upgrading all public and private hospitals including purchasing new medical equipment.

On promoting environmentally-friendly energy generation, the plan includes making schools and public buildings more energy self-sufficient through the installation of photovoltaic panels, funding programs to encourage small and middle-sized businesses to become less energy wasteful and developing a grid for the use of electric cars.

Research and development will receive a boost, red tape will be cut by simplifying online procedures to obtain business and other licenses, local government will be streamlined, and the tourism sector, which directly contributes 13% to the Cypriot economy will be reenergized.

Anastasiades said authorities will redouble their efforts to root out corruption as his government has faced much criticism over its maligned citizenship-for-investment program.

The investment program which required wealthy investors to sink at least 2.5 million euros into the Cypriot economy to obtain a passport was scrapped last year when an undercover news report exposed a top lawmaker and the parliamentary speaker allegedly promising to circumvent the program’s rules for a fictitious Chinese investor convicted of fraud.

Cyprus goes to the polls May 30 to elect a new parliament, although the election will have no bearing on Anastasiades’ presidential tenure, which ends in 2023.

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