Bank of Cyprus CEO Panicos Nicolaou shared his vision for Cyprus as a thriving business hub in the region during the seventh Business Leaders' Summit in Nicosia. He stressed the need for a comprehensive and continuous sustainable development strategy, emphasizing that it would require "courageous decisions" and a long-term sustainable plan.
Nicolaou noted that despite past challenges and regional conflicts, Cyprus has consistently exceeded expectations and demonstrated growth. He underlined the importance of moving beyond previous initiatives, such as the Cyprus Investment Programme, to attract foreign investments that truly add value, saying, "We must leave these past plans, like the Cyprus Investment Programme, behind to genuinely attract foreign investments that add value."
The CEO pointed out that conditions are ever-changing, with unexpected developments like the nearby Gaza conflict. Despite challenges, Cyprus has shown resilience and exceeded expectations over the past 50 years, having faced significant crises such as the 1974 disaster, the 1999 stock market crisis, and the 2013 banking crisis.
Nicolaou emphasized the vast opportunities ahead, including the potential to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), create high-value jobs, increase consumption, raise living standards, and provide a brighter future for young people.
He believes that meeting this demand is crucial to transforming Cyprus into a booming business destination. He also highlighted Cyprus' ability to quickly attract international companies, particularly in the technology sector. Cypriot companies have been expanding their services into the Middle East, the Arabian Gulf, and North Africa.
One of Cyprus' key advantages, as highlighted by Nicolaou, is its status as the only EU member state in the region that uses the euro as its currency, making it well-positioned to become the primary business hub. He also cited the country's favorable tax regime, access to talent, and quality of life as factors contributing to the potential for further growth.
Predictability is essential for investors, according to Nicolaou. He emphasized that Cyprus must be seen as a stable country, not one with high political risk that formulates policies based on random situations and outside pressures.
Digitization of services, streamlined bureaucratic processes, and a more responsive and expedient judicial system were also noted as crucial for businesses and individuals. He recommended creating an ecosystem cluster to attract similar companies, fostering investment and supporting secondary sectors.
Nicolaou stressed the need for Cyprus to rebuild its image, promoting reliability and stability, and called on the government and all relevant agencies to unite their efforts. In his closing remarks, he emphasized the importance of long-term, stable policies unaffected by political changes, stating, "The way forward is through the avenues of cooperation, innovation, and continuous investment in our people, our businesses, and our infrastructure. Major changes are never straightforward. In the history of every successful effort or transformation, there is always someone who has had the courage to make a defining decision. Cyprus must grab the opportunity to become a thriving European business hub, for there is no other way."
By fLEXI tEAM