Speech of Founding/Managing Partner, Georgia Constantinou Panayiotou at the Limassol Business and Investment Summit, on the 2nd of July 2021

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Limassol Reinvented: Reforms and innovation

2020 was the year where the uncertainty from the pandemic put the entire world on hold, with a global economy that became progressively inter- dependent triggering a chain reaction that left no industry and no market untarnished. 

Amid all these challenges, Cyprus is carefully re-engineering a new economic model, based on a longstanding strategy. This strategy aims to design, restructure and implement a modern and comprehensive development plan which will guarantee and safeguard sustainable growth: a resilient, competitive and adaptable economy based on innovation, technology, extroversion and the digital and environmental transformation, as key-enablers.

It is therefore imperative that the Cyprus government remains firmly committed and continues the implementation of institutional reforms.

Emphasizing on the sector of Justice, on which I am personally more involved and concentrated: Cyprus is now in the process of modernisation of the overall judicial system and framework. A series of reforms are being actively promoted aiming at re-engineering the Justice system, including the enhancement of the framework for a strong – Contract – enforcement. A strong contract enforcement is a key element for a reliable and solid business environment.  The envisioned reform includes among others, the establishment of a Commercial Court, that will adjudicate on private contract disputes. This will unquestionably contribute greatly to promoting Cyprus as the forum court and, in this respect, I strongly believe that Limassol is the ideal city to host the new Commercial Court.

With the Commercial Court operating, we will be able to further promote Cyprus law as the governing law in international private contracts and to this end, we should also insist that the English language will be permissible as the language of the court proceedings and hearings, if the parties so desire.

I mentioned earlier the element of extroversion of our new economic model combined with the need to emphasize and promote innovation and technology. Such effort presupposes the participation of the private sector through incentives for stimulating private capital.  And Limassol is the epicentre of private capital and of the business world in Cyprus.

Limassol has a comparative advantage by hosting a big number of small and medium size companies of foreign interests.   So, from what I see, we can move forward to two directions here: 

first direction is to attract new companies of foreign interests. Among other incentives to be offered, I also suggest the establishment of an innovation industrial park in the district of Limassol, as a national importance economic project, where we can offer incentives to accommodate startups from Cyprus and also from neighbouring countries. This innovation industrial park can also serve as a convenient headquartering location. 

Second direction: is to offer incentives for the merger of existing companies, that would allow them to invest additionally to research and innovation and to attract more expert personnel, not to cover existing vacancies, but by creating new job positions and opportunities.

Apart from this, I also propose that key governmental authorities establish a strong operational branch in Limassol for direct accessibility and full service not limited to the mere submission of applications. Especially the Migration and the Registrar of Companies.

Now, while all these sound exciting, visionary and of course inspiring, I am guessing what everyone must be thinking in the back of our minds:  we have all experienced it, we have all complained about it many-many times, however I am grasping the opportunity to point it out again in the presence of the key stakeholders: it’s the BUREAUCRACY of the public sector. The slow pace in the decision-making, in practical implementation. This resistance for change which is obstructing our VISION.

The excessive bureaucratic procedures in the public sector make an absolute necessity for the modernization of the structure and operation of the public administration. We have reached a point where this has become a dire need, otherwise not only the public and private sector will never go hand in hand, but it is also pulling us back. And let me be clear here, no one can deny that tremendous steps have already been made in this direction the past years, on political and on practical level, we are witnessing a solid effort towards both the digitization and the digitalization of the public sector at large. NEVERTHELESS we need this transformation to be completed the soonest possible otherwise we can’t be seriously discussing about progress or vision or a new economic model for Cyprus.

To summarize: Cyprus should proceed immediately to implement the new economic model and Limassol can and should be in the epicentre of this national masterplan: Commercial court in Limassol, industrial Innovation Park in Limassol, key government authorities in Limassol, boosted by institutional reforms and the digital transformation of the public sector.

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