22 February 2016
Director General’s Office
Dear friends and colleagues,
Such an honorary decision places upon our shoulders the grave responsibility of leading the Organisation of employers and the business community to fulfil its historic purpose. Having received a clear mandate to collectively plan and implement our objectives, we do not intend to merely manage the upcoming challenges but to develop new prospects and fully utilise any opportunities that arise from this troubled period the economy is currently facing.
I stand in owe before the monumental task that lies ahead and I am determined to prove myself worthy of the trust placed in me and succeed in meeting the expectations of all. In my new capacity, with the same zeal and even greater determination, I intend to carry on as I have for the past quarter of a century; to defend and promote the interests of this wonderful community upon the shoulders of which lies, perhaps, the only hope for this country’s progress and development.
With this first message, I reach out to you to outline the priorities and basic pursuits. During the following weeks, in cooperation with our President and all collective bodies, and in full consultation with all Professional Associations and direct Members of OEB, we will prioritise objectives and draft a strategic plan through which they will be gradually developed and implemented with specific action plans.
Henceforth, at the beginning of this new phase, and based on the decisions of the Executive Committee and Council of Management, these basic objectives are the following:
a) To restore the image and regain the respect businessmen and the business community deserve in society. We have an obligation to help the public and decision makers realise that there can be neither progress nor prosperity for anyone without businesses.
b) In cooperation with the Banks, Cοοperatives and other financial institutions, to reinforce the efforts to deleverage businesses and assist in improving the rate by which interest rates are reduced, especially for business loans.
c) To support stabilisation of the financial sector through actively engaging in business loan restructuring efforts and with greater flexibility on behalf of the banks to drastically reduce non-performing loans.
d) Address unemployment by encouraging small and large scale investments and by assisting businesses to further penetrate traditional markets (Arab countries, Balkans etc.) as well as new markets such as Iran and other near east countries.
e) Improve education at all levels by eliminating the distortions in the allocation of public spending and by linking secondary and tertiary education to the labour market and businesses.
f) Closely monitor the implementation of fiscal discipline and primary budget surplus targets, along with the expansion of development spending.
g) Prudent administration of the (fragile) economic stabilisation process through the effective management of labour claims to restore wages and benefits at their pre-crisis levels.
h) Regain the momentum for structural reforms, especially with regard to:
· The modernization of the public sector and the shrinkage of the state payroll
· Further utilisation of Public-private partnerships
· The utmost utilisation of Semi – Governmental organisations and other state – owned or controlled legal entities
· Restructuring of local authorities on a rational basis
· Implementation of an effective National Health System
· Regulation of the right to strike in essential services
i) Comprehensive reform of the pension system based on:
· Fair distribution of available national resources between public and private sector pensioners
· Strengthening of the second and third pillars of pension benefits
· Ensuring the viability of the national pension system and improvement of the Social Insurance Fund’s investment policy
j) Demanding and ensuring repayment facilitations for VAT, Income Tax and Social Insurance obligations for businesses.
k) Introduction of practical measures and substantial incentives by the state to improve market liquidity.
l) Mapping potential challenges the business community could face in case of a resolution of the Cyprus problem. This includes adequate preparation to exploit any opportunities that may arise, as well as to minimise the effects of any negative consequences to the competitiveness of products, services, infrastructure, and investment strategy in a reunified economy.
m) Focus on the needs of the basic sectors of economic activity, details of which are included in the comprehensive memo OEB has already drafted and submitted to the President of the Republic.
All of the above objectives will be implemented gradually and through a structured plan with the active involvement of the various specialised ad hoc Committees composed of Council of Management members and other eminent business personalities. OEB’s ad hoc Committees have been appointed by the Organisation’s Executive Committee with the expressed purpose of thoroughly examining and advancing issues within their area of responsibility.
You, better than anyone, understand that the road of progress is a long and winding one, full of risk and dangers, rock-strewn, often perilous and sometimes fatal. At the same time though, you also know that no other expeditions are as exciting or rewarding as the entrepreneurial journey.
It is the Cyprus Employers & Industrialists Federation’s (OEB) mission to assist and strengthen your plans, to support your ambitions and, with optimism and confidence, be by your side as you forge new paths.
Today marks for me and my colleagues the beginning of a new and challenging journey. I remain absolutely convinced that with God’s help, with the guidance of our President and collective bodies, the support of our Members, businesses and Professional Association alike, and with the devotion and determination of OEB’s exceptional team, our mission will be fully accomplished.
With kind regards,