Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said Thursday that the government’s lockdown exit roadmap, aspects of which were presented by the President on Wednesday night, aims to see the island’s economy on the path of recovery by the fourth quarter of this year.
In a press conference Thursday morning, Ministers of Finance, Labour, and Health, addressed reported to complement President Nicos Anastasiades’ address on the island’s lockdown exit strategy with parameters falling under their Ministries.
In a televised national address Wednesday night, President Nicos Anastasiades announced that Cyprus plans to initiate its strategy for the gradual lifting of restriction measures on May 4, followed by a second phase involving a further easing of restrictions on May 21.
The island’s lockdown exit roadmap aims to see the Cyprus economy on the path of recovery by the fourth trimester of 2020, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said, noting that the second phase of restrictions easing is the most dangerous, and will require particular cautiousness, so that we won’t need to “take steps backwards.”
By 2021, Petrides added, the government strategy foresees a full economic recovery.
Businesses to resume first vital contributors to economy
Petrides explained that the roadmap for the gradual lifting of restrictions is a “comprehensive strategy” drawn up through a collaborative process of deliberation with social partners and expert scientists evaluating the island’s epidemiological data.
The choices made regarding which forms of economic activity are included in each stage of the strategy were based on specific economic indicators such as GDP contribution, employment contribution, contribution to government revenues, and the risk of infection transmission, while it also took into consideration the possibility of some businesses continuing work from home, Petrides said.
Referring to sectors set to resume operation in the first phase of the exit strategy, to launch on May 4, Petrides said that the retail sector is a vital part of the economy, contributing over €1 billion, employing some 38,000 people (9.4% of total workforce), and provides for around 12% of government revenues.
Petrides highlighted however that the initial phase will not see a full-fledged resumption of the retail sector, with only limited employees returning to work.
The construction sector, also set to resume operation next week, is also an important contributor to the economy, employing over 30,000 people (7.5% of total workforce), and provides for over 16% of government revenues.
Responding to a question posed by a reporter regarding what will happen to the economy if the situation relapses after the lifting of measures, Petrides said that “our aim is to make a step forward and not steps backward,” but added that “if we do not succeed then we will enter into uncharted waters and I cannot foresee what will happen.”