London: Cyprus is stepping up efforts to attract foreign shipping companies to settle in the country and aims to have a new incentives package ready in three months’ time.
A steering committee has been tasked with developing the package, which will be aimed at particularly encouraging shipowners and managers to the country, Marios Demetriades, Cyprus’ transport, communications and works minister, told the country’s Financial Mirror newspaper.
The minister wants the package to be approved and ready for implementation by the end of the summer.
Ernst & Young is currently conducting a study of Cyprus’ maritime sector, upon which the incentives package will eventually be based.
The study, funded by the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA), will compare Cyprus’ shipping sector with that of other maritime centres. It will also look at what specific incentives should be provided to companies looking to relocate, which will inform the decisions made by the steering committee.
The new package will not offer any new tax breaks, but Demetriades said that Cyprus’ tax regime was already favourable to foreign companies and offered “stability”.
The package will also aim to make obtaining work permits quicker and easier than previously, perhaps by way of a one-stop-shop concept, the minister said.
“We don’t need any more inspectors, what we need is additional people for business development,” said Demetriades in the interview. Cyprus will call on the help of private sector companies to help promote its ship registry and make operational improvements that will offer more services to clients.
“We need to know the real reasons and not to come up with things that we don’t really understand. We have to be honest with ourselves. There’s no magic solution for shipping,” Demetriades told the Financial Mirror.
“It will be a slow and painful process, but we can definitely do more things to promote shipping. And we definitely want shipping to be a bigger part of our GDP.”
The minister added that the privatisation of Cyprus’ Limassol Port (pictured) is “on track”, with tenders expected to open by the end of this month. Demetriades hopes that investors will be found by the end of the year.
“Maybe this will take up to the end of March (2016) to sign all the contracts and complete all the paperwork. But we should more or less finish by the end of the year or beginning of the next,” he said of the process.