Growth and re­forms, but when?

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades pledged last Fri­day that growth con­sti­tutes a pri­or­ity for his govern­ment and that he will fol­low through with re­forms to change the coun­try for the bet­ter.

Alas, the pres­i­dent was preach­ing to the con­verted, say­ing that “there is a need for a mod­ern, long term and com­pre­hen­sive Na­tional Growth Strat­egy which will pin­point what needs to be done and how and what re­sults it ought to bring to the coun­try’s econ­omy in the com­ing years.”

But surely, this strat­egy, that aims to abol­ish “bu­reau­cratic hur­dles via a sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of com­pli­cated pro­cesses for the at­tain­ment of per­mits, the abo­li­tion of un­nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions and over­all bet­ter reg­u­la­tion” should have been im­ple­mented a long time ago.

Af­ter all, is this not what the pur­pose of the ill­fated one-stop-shop had been all along? That, through bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion be­tween govern­ment ser­vices and (ghasp!) the pri­vate sec­tor, we could of­fer a stream­lined pack­age that would in­clude quick com­pany for­ma­tion and on­line doc­u­men­ta­tion, speedy work per­mits and op­er­at­ing li­censes, as well as hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tion in­cen­tives, etc.

In­vestors have shunned Cyprus not be­cause of the bail-in by de­pos­i­tors and the ex­po­sure to Rus­sian in­vest­ments, but sim­ply be­cause for­eign ex­ec­u­tives of­ten find that red tape is too much to han­dle. They find it ridicu­lous that there are mul­ti­ple lay­ers for a hous­ing per­mit and that get­ting elec­tric­ity con­nected to your home could take months.

As re­gards reg­is­tra­tions, we have tired of re­peat­ing the bor­ingly same old ob­ser­va­tion that Com­pany House is too slow to reg­is­ter or process, with past Com­merce Min­is­ters echo­ing par­rot-like state­ments that “we are faster than ever be­fore.” The only rea­son the in­cum­bent trade min­is­ter hasn’t been duped into this civil ser­vice lingo is that he has been too busy with his En­ergy port­fo­lio.

Anas­tasi­ades said that one of his most trusted aides has un­der­taken to draft this new strat­egy and have it ready by Septem­ber. This is a full 18 months from the day he took of­fice and nearly half-way through his term, ig­nor­ing the ‘pro-busi­ness’ dec­la­ra­tions he made dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign.

You don’t need a new strat­egy to get the govern­ment ma­chine work­ing again, Mr Pres­i­dent. The pri­vate sec­tor is do­ing fine on its own, so all that should be done is for Anas­tasi­ades to crack his whip and get civil ser­vants to start work­ing for a change.

Oh, and by the way. While you’re at it, why not do some­thing about the six Deputy Min­is­ter portfolios you were sup­posed to cre­ate.

Or did you for­get, Mr Anas­tasi­ades…

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