LAND developers are optimistic that the real estate sector will recover from the economic crisis by next year provided the necessary measures are taken by the government.
Speaking to The Cyprus Weekly on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Cyprus Land & Building Developers Association yesterday, its president Lakis Tofarides was confident that the sector will emerge from the economic crisis.
“Although in the first four months of 2009 sales to foreign investors have plummeted 80% and to locals by around 60%, the sector will come out of the crisis sometime in 2010,” he said.
In its 32-year history, the sector has gone through four to five similar crises which were overcome without any serious problems.
The association’s proposals to tackle the economic crisis include measures to avoid unemployment and state intervention to increasing banks’ liquidity so that they can charge low interest rates.
They also involve making the most of European funds for infrastructure projects and speeding up government projects included in the 2009 budget.
Priority should be given to building permits for major private projects and the state should speed up procedures for issuing Title Deeds.
Tofarides said that ways should be found and incentives given so that foreign buyers will continue to show an interest in Cyprus.
“Let’s not forget that foreign investors are the life blood of our economy and permanent tourism makes a huge contribution to the real estate sector and a number of other sectors of the economy,” he told the meeting.
He noted that the real estate sector is the backbone of the Cyprus economy and land developing supported the Cyprus economy after the Turkish invasion in 1974 and continues to support, without any help from the state.
Property is the traditional form of investment for Cypriots. Land developing last year made a 19.3% contribution to GDP and a turnover of more than €2 billion. Foreign exchange from the sector was more than €800 million.
The land developing sector in Cyprus employs more than 45,000.
On a less optimistic note, the head of the Federation of Associations of Building Contractors Nicos Kelepeshis warned that if the world economic crisis continues for much longer, it will slow down the Cyprus economy, with land developing and tourism affected the most.
“The dynamism of the land developing sector, during 2007-8 boosted the market to an extent during the first three months of 2009 but, unfortunately, this will not continue for much longer,” Kelepeshis said.
Addressing the meeting, Interior Minister Neocles Sylikiotis said the land developing and building sectors were a top priority for his ministry.
Sylikiotis outlined a series of measures taken to support the sector in the wake of the economic crisis, including simplifying procedures for Land Registry checks.
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