By Stelios Orphanides
Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said he expects the economy will expand this year by around 4 per cent before returning to full employment conditions in “two or three years”.
“It is the thirteenth consecutive quarter since the first quarter of 2015 that the has economy grown,” the economist-politician told reporters in Nicosia on Tuesday, hours after Cystat posted its preliminary estimate of 3.8 per cent growth rate for January to March. “We have steady and robust growth, without denying that certain problems and structural weaknesses remain,” Prodromou added.
The government spokesman said as long as the government continues strengthening the economy with reforms “either in the institutional framework or in the way the state operates, we can be sure that conditions for workers and the Cypriot people in general will improve”.
The economy expanded last year by 3.9 per cent after growing 3.4 per cent in 2016 and 2 per cent in 2015, when it exited a prolonged recession which drove the unemployment rate to over 16 per cent in 2014. In March, the unemployment rate fell to 9.1 per cent after it fell in January for the first time in years to below a single digit.
“It seems that employment will increase 3.5 per cent this year,” the spokesman said adding that “with the economy expanding at this pace, it will be a matter of time and in two to three years, we will have full employment conditions in Cyprus,” which will help salaries increase and the creation of new quality jobs for the youth. Prodromou made a similar prediction on March 2, when he said full employment was a target for the government under President Nicos Anastasiades’ second term.
The unemployment rate among people younger than 25 in December stood at 22.8 per cent. Cyprus was accustomed to full employment before getting affected by the global financial crisis almost a decade ago.