PwC has launched a new publication created especially for people relocating to Cyprus, which tells readers everything the country has to offer.
The handbook covers issues ranging from immigration requirements to information regarding the Cyprus lifestyle.
The strategic location and numerous benefits the country has to offer have had played an important role in establishing the island as a reliable business hub and a popular tourist destination.
Theo Parperis, Partner and Head of Tax & Legal at PwC Cyprus spoke to the Financial Mirror about attracting professionals to the island.
Would you say that Cyprus has made major strides in the past decade or so to attract people to relocate to Cyprus?
Apart from ship management companies, which have been around for more than two decades, we have seen increasing number of other international companies setting up offices and employing many executives and staff. This is the result of Cyprus being an attractive business centre with a competitive tax and legal system, high quality and price competitive professional services, such as accounting and legal services and a well-educated workforce. Stricter OECD and EU laws on tax transparency and anti-money laundering has resulted in a shift of businesses from 'tax havens" to more recognised jurisdictions such as Cyprus. The need to have substance in the country of registration has also encouraged a lot of international companies to set up real offices and operations in Cyprus.
Which sector has been more attractive?
Shipping, and in particular ship management companies, have established Cyprus as one of the top 10 international shipping centres in the world for more than two decades. In addition, we have seen growth of international companies engaged in other sectors of the economy such as technology, financial services (Funds and Forex), real estate projects. Recently we have also seen increased interest in foreign direct investments in the tourism industry such as hotels and the casino resort, as well as the education sector such as the private universities. Moreover, the Cyprus economy has seen foreign investments with significant related benefits due to the prospects of hydrocarbons. I also expect further investments in Technology, provided that we can put in place an IT strategy to attract start-ups and hence give the opportunity to the next generation to engage in this sector, which is expected to shape the future.
Who is your booklet aimed at?
Our Guide will be of great use to any international company considering setting up or enhancing their presence in Cyprus, as well as any individual considering to relocating to Cyprus. Over the last few years, an increasing number of companies have relocated their senior executives to Cyprus.
Additionally, we also see an increasing need of wealthy individuals to choose Cyprus as a second, or even their primary base.
Why would a foreign individual consider relocating to Cyprus?
Cyprus is still a very attractive location for such individuals and their groups for a number of reasons. Firstly we have an Anglo Saxon legal system based on case law which gives confidence and stability to international businesses and executives.
The new provisions of our tax system which have been enacted over the last few years such as the introduction of the 'Non Dom' regime and half tax rates for foreign high net worth individuals (as well as for highly paid senior executives) are indeed very attractive compared to any other jurisdiction.
The pleasant climate, safe environment, good international schools, the fact that the English language is widely spoken and the traditional Cypriot hospitality, all make Cyprus an ideal location for executives and their families.
What are the main challenges Cyprus faces to attract more investors and high net worth individuals?
Despite the progress made on many issues, Cyprus still needs to do a lot to be at par with the top jurisdictions on some matters. We need to seriously cut down on bureaucracy as a country. It takes too long to get the necessary approvals from the various government departments and the procedures are not always clearly defined.
There is limited use of e-government and a lot of the documents and approvals have to be obtained in person from the various government and municipal departments, which the foreign executives consider a major setback.
In cases of possible legal dispute, our courts take too long to provide verdicts and this is one of the reasons Cyprus is not high enough on the country competitiveness report issued by the OECD. We also need to improve our network of airline connections and airport incoming facilities in order to make Cyprus more accessible.
Finally our Government and all relevant bodies such as CIBA and the Central Bank have to make extra efforts to improve further the reputation of the country by demonstrating and portraying Cyprus as a reputable, well regulated and business friendly international financial centre. Given the size and contribution of the services industry and international business in the Cyprus economy, addressing the above issues the soonest is absolutely essential.
Director - Marketing & Communications, PwC Cyprus