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CYPRUS: Government continues efforts to modernize economy

The world financial crisis has led to a loss of confidence among the citizens and the businesses, but the Government continues its efforts to technologically upgrade and modernize all sectors of the economy, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Neoklis Sylikiotis has said.

Addressing here Thursday the General Assembly of the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sylikiotis referred to the growth tools that have been established at a European level, namely Europe 2020 strategy and the Growth and Employment Pact, aiming at a transition to a new model of development and growth in the European economy and at deepening the single market and fully integrating the internal energy market by 2014, respectively.

To technologically upgrade and modernize all sectors of the economy, the Ministry seeks to develop new, innovative businesses and enhance employment of young scientists, by establishing a guarantee mechanism financed by the European Investment Bank, he said. Furthermore, the Ministry aims to reconstruct existing industries, increase productivity, attract foreign investments and exploit energy resources, he added.

The policy implemented by the Ministry aims to create “knowledge-intensive” units, accelerate growth of the manufacturing sector and services in general, and enhance competitiveness, Sylikiotis said, and noted that particular emphasis is given to research and innovation, as the basis to develop high technology industry.

Strengthening businesses, particularly fast growing ones, which invest in the development of innovative products and services, contribution of the public sector to innovation through public markets, creation of a collaborative network between SMEs, research institutions, public entities and investors and gaining SMEs access to finance to develop innovative products and services, are some of the pillars of the Ministry’s innovation policy, according to Sylikiotis.

Funding for businesses in the framework of projects co-financed by the EU, to promote entrepreneurship and modernize businesses, for the period 2007-2013, is expected to exceed 62 million Euro, and an additional amount of 11 million has been recently secured to cover all applications already submitted, according to the Minister.

The energy sector is the key for future growth, Sylikiotis said, noting that the Government’s strategy aims to render Cyprus a regional energy hub and also to form an energy model based on security of energy supply, competitiveness and sustainability.

Sylikiotis called on the businesses to exploit the financial incentives offered by the Government in an attempt to promote investment in renewable energy sources, which could create more jobs and contribute to local and regional development.

The Minister noted also that the Government has established the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company which will inter alia, engage in the production-sharing contract with Huston-based Noble energy with regard to the extraction and exploitation of natural gas from block 12 of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone and will engage in consultations with prospective investors concerning the construction of a regasification terminal in Cyprus.

Meanwhile, he added, there has been an invitation of tenders for natural gas transfer to Cyprus as an interim solution to gain lower electricity prices for households and businesses.


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