What key areas of opportunity or growth do you see in your sector and what are your expectations for Cyprus in 2020?
In recent times, the professional services sector has been a key pillar of the Cypriot economy with a significant contribution to the country's GDP. Despite the challenges faced in the years following the peak of the financial crisis, the professional services sector has shown resilience, agility and has played a leading role in attracting foreign investment and restoring the business environment. The investments of recent years are indicative of the progress made and demonstrate the increasing confidence of foreign investors in our country.
Several international companies have strengthened their presence in Cyprus and the country is developing as a reliable funds destination. The country continues to be a competitive financial centre with highly-skilled professionals and significant comparative advantages. These include among others, a stable and attractive tax system, an advantageous geographical location and a large double taxation agreement network. Today however, Cyprus is facing new challenges due to developments in taxation, transparency, regulation and rising geopolitical uncertainty. According to PwC’s recent Global CEO Survey, as business leaders around the world look ahead to 2020, they are pessimistic about the prospects of the global economy with more than half of the CEOs surveyed believing the rate of global GDP growth will decline.
To successfully navigate the rising tide of uncertainty and realise the full potential of the country, we need to focus on enhancing the competitiveness of Cyprus, strengthening innovation and digital transformation as well as building a conducive business environment. Cyprus needs a new growth model that embraces new strategies, closes the competitiveness gap and improves the ease of doing business in investments, Research & Development, and the digital economy.
The professional services sector should focus on supporting entrepreneurship with services that meet the future needs of businesses and on enhancing the image and reputation of Cyprus as an international business and investment centre. The technological revolution that is currently underway is changing the business landscape and at the same time creating the need for new digital tools and skills. One of the most crucial reforms and investments we need to complete is the reform of our country’s educational system. To prepare our children and upskill and reskill our existing labour force for the challenges of the digital economy.
In this context, PwC Cyprus recently presented the “New World, New Skills” programme which is part of the PwC international network’s commitment to deal with the growing mismatch between existing skills and those required in the digital world. On a local level, PwC Cyprus is committed to invest €2m over the next four years in actions and initiatives that aim to spread digital knowledge and strengthen the skills that are required in the digital era. The programme focuses on three main pillars: upgrading the skills of PwC’s people, supporting the organisation’s clients to deal with the challenges brought on by radical technological advancement and automation as well as cooperating with various bodies to support multiple social groups so that they can improve their knowledge and skills.
By investing in the future, the professional services sector will continue to lead economic growth. If we successfully manage the opportunities that are opening up, continue our efforts and encourage the necessary changes, we will be able to move forward and achieve a positive impact on society as well as long-term sustainable growth.