Georgiades: Cyprus has recovered but ‘can do better’
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
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.”