Ge­or­giades: Cyprus has re­cov­ered but ‘can do bet­ter’

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Cyprus has been able to re­cover and con­fi­dence has been re­stored, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Har­ris Ge­or­giades said on Tues­day, not­ing at the same time that if an am­bi­tious agenda of eco­nomic re­form and pos­i­tive change con­tin­ues to be pro­moted, Cyprus can do bet­ter.

Ad­dress­ing the 11th Econ­o­mist Sum­mit in Ni­cosia, Ge­or­giades said that “Cyprus has been able to re­cover. And con­fi­dence has been re­stored”. A week ago, he added, “this was demon­strated by a suc­cess­ful is­suance of a 10-year bond in the in­ter­na­tional cap­i­tal mar­kets.”

Ge­or­giades noted that “even though this was the best pric­ing Cyprus ever achieved on a 10-year bond, we must and we can make it even bet­ter.”

“And if we agree on this, then we should also agree that this will only hap­pen if we con­tinue pro­mot­ing an am­bi­tious agenda of eco­nomic re­form and pos­i­tive change”, he pointed out. If, he added, “we main­tain fis­cal dis­ci­pline; if we con­tinue re­form­ing and im­prov­ing our bank­ing sec­tor.”

The min­is­ter con­tin­ued to say that when it comes to eco­nomic per­for­mance, “surpassing all ex­pec­ta­tions, we are ex­pect­ing growth this year some­where around 1.5%, which is more or less the Eu­ro­zone av­er­age.”

But here also, Ge­or­giades added, “I would not be sat­is­fied”, stress­ing that: “We can do even bet­ter.”

“Cyprus can do bet­ter”, he said, adding that in fact he be­lieves “that Cyprus has the po­ten­tial and the ca­pac­ity to achieve sus­tain­able and healthy growth rates in a long-term hori­zon.”

Yet again, he ex­plained, “for this to hap­pen we must un­leash the pro­duc­tive po­ten­tial of our econ­omy, with less bu­reau­cracy, more ef­fi­ciency and re­newed com­pet­i­tive­ness.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ge­or­giades “we have seen the worst of the cri­sis, we shall be com­plet­ing the sup­port pro­gramme early next year, and we shall not be re­quest­ing an ex­ten­sion of the pro­gramme or a con­di­tional credit line.”

He thanked Cyprus’ part­ners in the Eu­ro­zone and the in­sti­tu­tions for their sup­port, point­ing out how­ever that “we are ready to take it from here.”

At the same time, he pledged that “we shall main­tain the ef­fort with a re­newed mo­men­tum and re­newed con­fi­dence.”

“We al­ready have a num­ber of re­form bills pend­ing be­fore the House and we shall be keep­ing ev­ery­one busy even af­ter the Troika leaves”, he said.

Ge­or­giades noted that “we shall con­tinue to demon­strate a will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate and to find agree­able so­lu­tions, but we shall be stand­ing firm against those who sim­ply op­pose any step for­ward.”

“We shall never al­low a re­turn to those failed poli­cies, prac­tices and at­ti­tudes which are re­spon­si­ble for the de­rail­ing of our econ­omy in the first place,” he con­cluded.

Speak­ing at the same con­fer­ence, Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades said that Cyprus is an ex­am­ple of suc­cess­ful eco­nomic re­form.

He noted that Cyprus is en­ter­ing “a new era of growth and pros­per­ity”, while re­fer­ring to un­em­ploy­ment, he said that it con­sti­tutes one of the most se­ri­ous prob­lems and that time and sys­tem­atic ef­fort are re­quired to ad­dress it.

With re­gards to the banks, he noted that they have been re-cap­i­talised and have suf­fi­cient liq­uid­ity at their dis­posal, while their re­li­a­bil­ity and sta­bil­ity have been re­gained.

Re­fer­ring to the chal­lenges ahead, he said that the big­gest is the re­struc­tur­ing of NPLs that will im­prove the banks’ po­ten­tial to pro­vide new credit to the econ­omy.

With re­gard to the re­forms which are un­der­way, he noted that they con­trib­ute to the im­prove­ment of com­pet­i­tive­ness and to the re­duc­tion of bu­reau­cracy. He said that at­tract­ing in­vest­ments con­sti­tutes a pri­or­ity of the gov­ern­ment, with a view to boost eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties, to cre­ate jobs and to ad­dress un­em­ploy­ment.

Anas­tasi­ades said that Cyprus has man­aged to i mprove its po­si­tion as a com­pet­i­tive des­ti­na­tion, and has recorded progress as in­vest­ments.

Cyprus has fully come out of re­ces­sion, record­ing growth, while that state can seek to ob­tain loans from the mar­kets.

He stressed, how­ever, that “we must re­main strict as re­gards our financial poli­cies and the mea­sures we have adopted to achieve sta­bil­ity and per­spec­tive.”

Re­fer­ring to the en­ergy sec­tor, Anas­tasi­ades said that Cyprus can be­come an im­por­tant en­ergy hub and re­ferred to a com­pre­hen­sive re­gional ap­proach which the gov­ern­ment fol­lows in the frame­work of its for­eign pol­icy.

He said that “we will be able to use our nat­u­ral resources by im­prov­ing our re­la­tions with all neigh­bour­ing states.”

“We will con­tinue to build bridges and at

re­gards

the

at­trac­tion

of the same time we will in­ten­sify re­unite the coun­try,” he added.

Ear­lier, Dirk Rein­er­mann of the World Bank said that Cyprus this year is among the top ten im­provers in the world, and not just in the top ten but num­ber four and he con­grat­u­lated the gov­ern­ment of Cyprus for do­ing that as it “sends mes­sages to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.”

How­ever, he also gave bad news about labour pro­duc­tiv­ity and low ef­fi­ciency in pub­lic sec­tor spend­ing where Cyprus is lag­ging be­hind its EU coun­ter­parts. He fin­ished on a note of op­ti­mism say­ing that if Cyprus were to re­brand it­self from a di­vided coun­try to a re­united one which would “against the stream at a time of dis­in­te­gra­tion and divi­sion, this would send a very strong mes­sage to in­vestors.”

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