articles | 22 July 2021

‘Cyprus now has a central plan to transform the economy’ – Finance Minister

Speaking at the launch conference, Finance Minister Constantinos Petridis noted that Cyprus has long needed centralised planning of this type. “Now we have a central design again to transform the economy.

Petridis called on everyone in Cyprus to make a collective effort to transform the strategy into policy and action. “Whenever we have decided collectively to move forward as a country we have achieved our goals.”

More than 200 horizontal and sectoral proposals for change are made by the plan, with the aim of sustainable development. These await a reaction from the public before August 9.

The Cyprus Economy and Competitiveness Council spearheaded the creation of the plan.  At the conference, its PresidentTakis Clerides emphasised the close linkage of “Vision 2035” to the Recovery and Sustainability Plan. “The approach of ‘Vision 2035’ is perfectly consistent with the Recovery Plan, he said.

The plan itself, as formulated by PwC Cyprus, states the overall objective: “To  build on and enhance our existing and emerging comparative advantages to make Cyprus one of Europe’s most attractive places to do business (with physical presence) and to trade with the rest of the world. Cyprus should become a leader in sustainability, and a high-tech capital in Europe.

The plan proposes two types of initiatives:

“Horizontal initiatives: Sector agnostic initiatives which have a wide-reaching impact across the entire economy, society and the environment. These initiatives intend to build the appropriate foundations and fix long-standing structural weaknesses which will help the economy to be competitive, resilient, fair and productive so that people can achieve their potential.

Vertical initiatives: Sector specific initiatives which have a narrower impact. These initiatives intend to build the necessary preconditions for sector-specific growth consistent with Cyprus’ Vision 2035 and fix any other sector-specific inconsistencies.”

Here are just a few detailed examples from “Vision 2035:”

  • Liberalise the electricity market by 2022 and invest in infrastructure like smart grids, battery technology, demand management systems, regional electricity connections and renewable energy. Increase energy efficiency standards and ban the sale (new and used) of internal combustion engine cars by 2035.
  • Establish a STEM visa fast track and create a Digital Nomad ecosystem to bring talent to Cyprus. Set up an investment promotion taskforce within CIPA to proactively target CEOs and promote Vision 2035. Bolster the remit and capabilities of the Trade Service as an export promotion agency to help companies achieve scale and reach new export markets.
  • Transform the civil service into a modern employer with a merit-based performance appraisal and promotion system to motivate, inspire and drive its people to upskill, to innovate, and to ultimately implement Vision 2035 Score of 1.6 – 2.0 (consistent with New Zealand and Singapore) World Governance Indicators: government effectiveness, voice and accountability.
  • To make the justice system more forward-looking, we recommend a comprehensive forecast of future needs to house new courts, initiatives to upskill judges, and ways to ensure the digital transformation is a continuous process which embraces innovations such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics over the long-term Strategic objectives Key horizontal initiatives Target outcomes by 2035 Ownership of future destiny.
  • Effective government machinery: Drive the digital transformation with the Government as a Platform service delivery model that centralises procedures, creates efficiency gains, and makes public services more accessible for businesses and citizens alike.
  • Accelerate and finalise local municipality reforms, underpinned by clear principles, frameworks, and KPIs to offer greater autonomy, transparency and accountability to municipalities for local services, such as waste management.
  • Radically increase investment to develop smart cities and sustainable transport, while focusing investment on the strategic road network to maintenance.
  • Investment in the infrastructure required for a circular economy, including recycling plants, and incentives to change behaviour using education, legislation, fines, and better monitoring and enforcement using drones.
  • Using existing resources, update Cyprus’ school curriculum to deliver much better outcomes so that it is fit for a modern workplace, with subjects including environmental education, digital and financial literacy, relationships education, and modern ways of teaching to overhaul rote learning and develop skills, such as critical thinking, complex problem-solving, team-working, emotional intelligence, and entrepreneurship. Improve and promote vocational education with new vocational secondary schools and the re-establishment of a Higher Education Technical Institute, both providing courses co-designed and led by employers. Create a culture of lifelong learning with a National Careers Service and a refresh of the Adult Education Centres.
  • Raise the quality of healthcare standards through international accreditation, to improve the sectors’ international reputation. Raise the bar of care provided with health managers and clinical leadership. • Develop a long-term digital vision for the health sector including a roadmap for digital integration across hospitals • Develop plans to move towards a value-based General Health System, supported by improved data collection Embrace change by using virtual care solutions to improve accessibility through med-tech start-up support and pilots. Make forward-looking investments in elderly and assisted living communities.

This is just a short selection from the 200 proposals.

The plan concludes: “This is a plan for all of Cyprus. It will only be successful if policymakers, businesses, academia and citizens understand it requires a permanent shift in mindset— breaking away from habits or behaviours of the past.”

Source: Cyprus Mail

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