At­tract­ing for­eign in­vestors

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

So, let’s see where this mo­men­tum for a so­lu­tion is based and what the greater ben­e­fits would be or their im­pact on the econ­omy:

• We have a Pres­i­dent who firmly be­lieves that now is the time for a set­tle­ment. This adds to the prospect of for­eign in­vest­ment.

• We have the op­po­si­tion party AKEL that is co­her­ent as re­gards only the Cyprus prob­lem, and both par­ties (rul­ing DISY and com­mu­nist AKEL) dis­agree­ing at var­i­ous lev­els and other mi­nor is­sues such as the econ­omy, but they could keep their dis­agree­ments at lower tones.

• We have two re­spectable pres­i­dents of both the AKEL and DISY par­ties, who, un­for­tu­nately, are un­able to con­trol some of their nois­ier MPs, re­sult­ing in a con­fronta­tion, that in turn causes an un­cer­tain cli­mate in the econ­omy.

• How­ever, adding to this un­cer­tainty has been Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades him­self when it comes to the econ­omy, who has failed to con­tinue with his ini­tial de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­front those hell-bent on de­stroy­ing the econ­omy – none other than the trade unions. Thus, with the Na­tional Health Scheme reach­ing its fi­nal prepa­ra­tion stage, with the first threat of a strike the pro­ject of na­tional im­por­tance was post­poned to meet the in­ter­ests of the trade unions and to quote the for­mer Health Min­is­ter Phili­pos Pat­salis “th im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NHS will be post­pone for another 40 years.”

• Hav­ing al­ready dished out EUR 1 mln per porter at Li­mas­sol port whose man­age­ment will be pri­va­tised in 2016, some of theme are claim­ing more in ad­di­tional com­pen­sa­tion. Was their com­pen­sa­tion not enough?

• With­out any hes­i­ta­tion from the op­po­si­tion (driven mainly by AKEL but other also fol­low) strikes are held at the port of Li­mas­sol just as we are seek­ing for­eign in­vestors. On the other hand we have seen what hap­pened to the Port of Pi­raeus leased out to the Chi­nese com­pany Cosco, which has also shown in­ter­est in Cyprus: the com­pany has tripled its turnover in Pi­raeus and is now seek­ing ad­di­tional space to ex­pand its oper­a­tions, with tremen­dous ben­e­fits to the lo­cal econ­omy, the labour sec­tor and the prop­erty mar­ket.

• Just as we have started to get our heads out of the cesspool of the econ­omy, we have al­ready started talk­ing about a new con­sen­sus for more pay rises of 2-4% de­manded by the trade unions and this re­gard­less of the high level of un­em­ploy­ment. Is this not a provo­ca­tion on be­half of the unions and the highly paid civil ser­vants with the tol­er­ance of the gov­ern­ment? And yet, in Bri­tain from where we have asked for ex­per­tise to re­form our public ad­min­is­tra­tion, there is a sys­tem whereby ev­ery five years salaries of the public ser­vice are com­pared to the pri­vate sec­tor as a re­sult of which wages in­creased or re­duced. This is the right way to do it and not the present sys­tem in Cyprus which is ex­pected to con­tinue and will keep on di­vid­ing the pri­vate and public sec­tors, while ev­ery­body else is strug­gling to get a cushy job in the public sec­tor with fewer hours and mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits. Thus, the un­con­trolled gov­ern­ment sys­tem di­rectly af­fects the pri­vate sec­tor and of­fi­cials at all lev­els pur­su­ing to join the public ser­vice. Even Pasidy trade union boss Glafkos Had­jipetrou blurted out that he “will not al­low a fur­ther re­duc­tion of public ser­vants and wages.” With this au­dac­ity, it seems he has ap­pointed him­self the new Gover­nor of Cyprus to suc­ceed Sir Hard­ing.

They de­mand pay in­creases linked to the in­creased cost of liv­ing. Well, now that we have de­fla­tion and a re­duc­tion in the cost of liv­ing, will salaries re­main un­changed or will they de­crease? God for­bid if any­one dares to sug­gest this, less than a year from the next par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

• Press re­ports sug­gest that taxi driv­ers from Par­al­imni / Ayia Napa want to abol­ish the public trans­port be­tween the two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties which now ends at 12 mid­night (pre­vi­ously it was all night) and to re­duce this ser­vice to end by 9pm. Why, so that these mafiosi taxi driv­ers con­tinue to charge EUR 8-12 for a 12 minute drive? Cheap trans­porta­tion will help both re­sorts and so the tourists have the choice to move around be­tween both mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, ei­ther by bus or evn by (ex­pen­seive) taxi, if they wish. What does the As­so­ci­a­tion of Hote­liers have to say about this? Well, un­sur­pris­ingly noth­ing, com­ing from the group that wants ev­ery­thing for it­self and with­out much con­cern for oth­ers.

• Now let’s talk about the mea­sure to lib­er­alise mort­gage from buy­ers who re­paid their dues, where once again we have an in­com­pre­hen­si­ble post­pone­ment on be­half of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties. I men­tion this be­cause the more I think about it, the de­lay seems to serve the in­ter­ests of a hand­ful of politi­cians and the last-minute trans­ac­tions or deals by ma­jor fi­nanciers or de­vel­op­ers. • And then came the com­mend­able Jean Claude Juncker, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, who of­fered to pro­vide us with EUR 500 mil­lion in aid pack­ages. And what was the stupid re­ac­tion of some par­ties? “He wants to buy us off with money!”

• Dis­cussing the re­la­tions be­tween Greece and Cyprus, par­lia­men­tary speaker Zoe Kon­stan­topoulou de­cided to re­mind us of the sac­ri­fices Greeks made for Cypri­ots. What, then, about the sac­ri­fices that Cypri­ots made for Greece? Had she for­got­ten our con­tri­bu­tion from the in­de­pen­dence strug­gles of 1821, to the Balkan wars, and then the first and sec­ond world wars with 50,000 Cypriot en­listed in the Bri­tish army of a pop­u­la­tion of 600,000 and there­fore saved Bri­tain from mass en­list­ments. The sac­ri­fices of Cypri­ots for Greece, un­for­tu­nately, do not count, nor that of the two Cypri­ots (a Greek Cypriot and a Turk­ish Cypriot) who joined Greek par­ti­sans in 1942 to blow up the rail­road bridge and cut off the en­emy-con­trolled route be­tween Thes­sa­loniki and Athens.

Just be­cause we aim to at­tract for­eign in­vestors, does not mean that these for­eign­ers are ig­no­rant, who do not study the history and cul­ture of the place, read about the po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity or the com­mon (if any) eco­nomic pol­icy and strate­gies.

We need to pay a lot more at­ten­tion and ex­press love for our coun­try, while the crit­ics of our cur­rent eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion are, per­haps, our only hope to cor­rec­tion the ills of the past and to at­tract for­eign in­vestors to the ben­e­fit and pros­per­ity of the coun­try.

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