Facilitation of Strategic Development Projects

Aug 14, 2023

The Interior Ministry has welcomed parliament’s approval of legislation connected to an important tool in the State’s efforts to facilitate strategic development projects.

The House of Representatives passed the Law on the Facilitation of Strategic Development Projects, based on the bill submitted by the Ministry of the Interior and prepared by the Department of Urban Planning and Housing, as the competent coordinating authority, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, the Department of the Environment, the Legal Service, and other parties involved.

The legislation is related to a reform included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and satisfies the country-specific Recommendations of the European Semester and aims to facilitate licensing, depending on their importance and scale.

The aim is to support, attract and directly promote ripe projects “that will contribute positively to the sustainable development of the productive sectors of the Cyprus economy, the creation of permanent jobs and the improvement of the quality of life of citizens,” the Interior Ministry has noted.

The Law describes the mechanism through which a development can be characterised as a strategic development project and be included in the accelerated licensing process. The development must concern productive economic activity and contribute to the sustainable development of the economy, through the satisfaction of objective criteria, a specific amount of investment and a specific number of permanent jobs, the Interior Ministry states.

The legistlation also provides for the establishment of a new section in the Department of Urban Planning and Housing that will manage the licensing process, as well as the appointment of a Project Manager for each development that is characterised as a strategic development project. It is also mentioned that the Project Manager contributes to the coordination of the competent Authorities and to the timely issuance of the required permits. “In this way, the granting of licenses is carried out at a central level, within a period of time that will not exceed 12 months,” the Interior Ministry notes.

In addition, binding timetables for processing development applications and submitting opinions and opinions of administrative authorities can be determined through the new legislation. The creation of an electronic platform is also planned, which will allow the submission of an application, the study and the issuance of Urban Planning Permits and Building Permits electronically.

Finally, the Ministry of the Interior announcement thanked the members of the Parliamentary Committee on the Interior for “their constructive and active involvement” in shaping the final content of the Law, which will be, as it states, an important tool in the effort to promote the State’s strategic goals.

A defining upgrade

The House of Representatives’ approval of the government bill “On the Facilitation of Strategic Development Projects Law of 2023” marks a decisive modernisation in the attraction of strategic investments and for the economy more broadly, said Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis, in a written statement after the bill was approved by Parliament.

As Letymbiotis mentions in his statement, the legislation simplifies the licensing procedures and reduces bureaucracy, implementing a new policy of rapid licensing of developments, while it is also a prerequisite of the Recovery and Resilience Plan of Cyprus.

Among the criteria of the projects characterised as strategic investments, in addition to the use (research, technology), the amount of the investment, the creation of a number of new jobs is included, he adds.

The Government Spokesman notes that, in summary, the main reforms of the legislation, which aim to simplify the licensing process for strategic investments and reduce bureaucracy, are the institutionalisation of the Responsible Project (Project Manager) for each strategic development project that will be part of the mechanism. The Project Manager will act as a central point of reference for the applicant’s service with the Public Services, will be involved from the initial stage of the evaluation of the application and will be the applicant’s single point of contact with all Services for licensing purposes.

Also, there will be binding timetables set in advance for the issuance of all permits required for the implementation of a strategic development project.

The third point mentioned by Letymbiotis is the establishment of a Single Licensing Authority and the issuance of urban planning and building permits at a central level, by the Strategic Developments Sector, within a maximum period of one year.