Cyprus’ citizenship by investment scheme will not be revived but other incentives will be given to attract investments, excluding citizenship, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday, following a two-hour-long testimony before the investigative committee probing Cyprus’ nixed citizenship-by-investment scheme.
Anastasiades arrived at his scheduled probe hearing carrying several files, a number of which he was to hand over to the investigative committee, he informed the roughly 20 journalists present.
Asked by the chair of the committee, Myronas Nikolatos, to explain his role in the program since he assumed the presidency in 2013, Anastasiades said that in 2013, “state finances were at the brink of collapse,” adding that €235.6 million were available, which could carry the country through a maximum of 30 more days. Unemployment was also at 16% and was showing no signs of decline, he said.
The closure of Laiki (Popular Bank) in 2013 also foreign depositors to withdraw billions of euros and thousands of foreign companies transfer their business elsewhere, Anastasiades said.
It was under these circumstances that Cyprus underwent a bailout, but also adopted a number of incentives to attract investment, Anastasiades said.
The government moved to change the criteria of the program that was introduced in 2007. Since 2013, his government steadily reduced the investment amount until it reached its final point at €2.5 million, while the required area of investment was shifted according to the evolving situation. In 2016, this emphasis was shifted to the construction sector due to the state of the sector’s non-performing loans, which at the time stood at around €7 billion, and by 2020 had fallen to around €1.5 billion, Anastasiades said, while creating three thousand jobs.
Anastasiades said the idea behind granting citizenship to the family members of investors was to attract investors to the island, allowing them to bring along their family.
“There was an irrational promotion of the programme, giving the impression Cyprus was selling its passports,” he said. That promotion included exhibition stands and “adverts on luggage trolleys at airports” or in pamphlets shaped like passports.
In statements to the press following the hearing, the President said that he answered with complete sincerity, stating the true facts.
Among the problems the country is facing, the President listed the settlement of the Cyprus problem, the way to effectively address the problems caused by the pandemic, both with regard to public health and the economy, as well as reforms.
“There are serious issues for which everyone's cooperation is necessary" President Anastasiades said, adding that he will not be the cause of any disagreements. “I am ready to cooperate with all political forces in an honest manner” in order to offer what we owe to this country, despite our disagreements on some issues, the President went on.