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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Famagusta Province: Poor relative or the future of investments?

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ΕπαρχΙα Αμμο&chi ;oστου: Φτωχoς συγγενorς or το μeλλον &tau ;ων επενδyσεων;

Speaking from the platform of the provincial gathering of the EBE Famagusta last October, the President of the Republic announced projects and measures aimed at changing the free province of Famagusta. Despite the initially positive reception of the announcement, local bodies still express the need for further support for their region, which lags significantly behind the rest of the island in development projects. As indicatively stated by the President of the EBE Famagusta, “another effort is needed because the free Famagusta is in danger of being left the poor relative”.

The Chamber of Famagusta, in collaboration with all the municipalities and communities of the region, drafted and presented, within the framework of the provincial assembly, a proposed development program of 295 million euros for the period 2024-2029 for the free province of Famagusta, requesting the support of the state . After all, the President himself had earlier admitted at the event that Famagusta is “an unjust province in terms of the support it has received from the state, especially if we compare with the rest of the provinces of Cyprus”.

ΕπαρχΙα Αμμοχω&sigma του: Φτωχoς συγγενorς or το μeλλον τω ν επενδyσεων;

Big Contribution, Little Projects

At the heart of the development projects proposed by EBE Famagusta is the tripartite “dealing with seasonality, improving the quality of life of citizens, attracting new large investments”, but also the improvement of the existing tourist product. The President of the Chamber, Mr. Augustinos Papathoma, indicated that there should be no disparities in development between the provinces, as this would be disastrous since it would cause significant social problems. The president of EBEA highlighted the fact that in 2018-2023, of the €2.7 billion allocated for projects, only 7% ended up in the free Famagusta, while the province's contribution to the gross tourist product exceeds 40% .

Among other things, local agencies have urgently requested the assistance of the state to create conditions that will favor the implementation of large developments, such as hospitals, educational institutions, mixed developments and other important infrastructures, which in turn will give new impetus to the attraction foreign companies, in order to make use of the Famagusta area as the seat of their activities. The main obstacles recorded in attracting investment in the province of Famagusta concern four important areas: firstly, the absence of a special business zone where infrastructure could be built to attract foreign companies. Then there is the regulatory framework for developments, which effectively treats almost the entire province as “rural”, denying it development rights enjoyed by urban municipalities in relation to tourist, business and other developments. The third point in which obstacles are identified concerns the existing Plan of Urban Incentives for Development, which excludes from the scope of application a large part of the waterfront of the newly created Municipality of Ayia Napa, while the fourth focuses on outdated legislation that poses obstacles to the achievement of national strategic goals. An illustrative example is the Law on Private Hospitals, which does not allow the creation of hospitals in the context of mixed developments, which could contribute both to the upgrading of the quality of life of citizens, and to the creation of infrastructures that will attract further investments, in a time a moment where the state itself has set the goal of encouraging the attraction and implementation of mixed developments, the development of the Health sector and the further attraction of medical tourism.

Hostages of the exhibitions

The local bodies have also urgently raised the need for a revision of the existing Special Environmental Assessments for the area, so that on the one hand they are consistent with the provisions of the local plans and on the other hand they allow development with respect for the environment. As they argue, “as things stand today, the development in a large part of the free province of Famagusta is becoming hostage to these reports”, as horizontal prohibitive measures are imposed, which make it difficult to attract sustainable large-scale investments.

At the same time, emphasis is placed on raising funds for the creation of higher education schools in the region, which will contribute positively to the fight against seasonality and the stay of young people in their province. Such a development will give life to a large number of businesses to remain open throughout the year.

The President of the Republic, however, sent the message, during the provincial gathering, that the door of his office , but also of the government ministers, “is always open to discuss, to find solutions, we are by your side, we approach you as partners and we will do everything possible to achieve the development of the region”. If this approach is implemented in practice, then the province of Famagusta from a “poor relative” as the local community claims, will develop into an important investment for the future of the place.

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Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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