Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said he has a “clear conscience” as he delivered on his commitments concerning the creation of a “welfare state with no exclusions,” noting that his government’s legacy is accompanied by a total of €315 million in investments and reforms funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Cyprus Tomorrow), which would further upgrade the safety net for all citizens in need.
As his ten-year term in office draws to a close, Anastasiades reflected on his government's actions and reforms aiming in the field of social welfare, while he outlined the reforms pending implementation before his second term expires on March 1, 2023.
The President held on Tuesday evening the first event to present his government’s work as well as the future investments included in the €1.2 billion “Cyprus Tomorrow” plan, stating that today’s stock-taking is a “political memorial service” to the late Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Zeta Emilianides, who passed away last June.
He also recalled his government’s previous major reforms such as the implementation of the Guaranteed Minimum Income with total spending of €1.7 billion from 2014 to 2021, the recent approval of the Minimum Wage, the introduction of the General Health Scheme, the minimum guaranteed pension and the widower pension.
The President also recalled the approval of the paternity leave, Christmas bonus for certain groups as well the establishment of the Deputy Ministry for Social Welfare.
He noted that the government through radical reforms and sound fiscal management could restore a number of welfare benefits that were annulled by the previous government, increase current benefits and introduce additional allowances with an annual expenditure of €211 million.
“What I would like to stress is that my conscience is clear because I’ve delivered to my electoral commitments for the creation of a real welfare state with no exclusions, supporting our fellow citizens in need.”
The President vowed that the upgrade of the public safety net will continue through certain policy targets with investments amounting to €315 million included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan titled “Cyprus Tomorrow”.
“A plan which constitutes the culmination, the completion of the work we started and the legacy not only for the next government but for the citizens as a whole,” he added.
Furthermore, Anastasiades outlined the government’s reform agenda until the elections, stating that in the coming weeks the state will set up a Pension Fund for employees who joined the public service after 2011, the reform of the Social Insurance System, while all allowances will be digitalized combating red tape.
He also referred to the introduction of two-month paid parental leave for parents of children over eight years old as well as the bills tabled to the Parliament over the reform of the Cyprus Family Law.
The actions included in the “Cyprus Tomorrow Plan”
Anastasiades, among other things, referred to a new IT system for the Welfare Benefit Management Services, the reform of the Social Welfare Services, the hiring of 25 social workers who will reside in or tour communities, the expansion of Advisory Centres for single-parent families and the elderly as well as the Children and Youth Protection and Care Centres.
He also referred to new projects and investments for persons with disabilities as well as 11 actions to enhance family, children and women totaling €162 million, such as extending free Early Childhood Education and Care, tuition support for children aged between three and four years to enroll in public and private kindergartens.
Moreover, Anastasiades acknowledged the realities taking shape following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the western sanctions against Russia.
“This is a new exogenous economic crisis, resulting in inflationary trends, price hikes, and the ensuing erosion of the citizens' purchasing power with a particular blow to the vulnerable groups,” he said.
Recalling that the state has so far taken measures amounting to €350 million, President Anastasiades said that “on the basis of the state’s fiscal capabilities new measures are being constantly evaluated which potentially could be adopted towards further supporting the economy and relieving the vulnerable groups.”
“I would like to assure you that with the same sensitivity and effectiveness with which we’ve tackled both the 2013 financial crisis as well as the 2020 health crisis we will face this crisis in the framework of the state's economic capabilities,” he said.
On housing policy, Anastasiades said that between 2013 and 2021 the state has granted plots for house construction to 1,888 families, while the Cyprus Land Development Corporation provided 284 houses for eligible persons with more than 900 new housing units estimated to be delivered in the period between 2022 and 2027, amounting to more than €150 million.
He also noted that between 2013 and 2021 a total of 11,550 families benefited from plans aiming to purchase, construct and repair homes with a total budget of €224 million with an additional €47 million estimated for 2022, while support to persons displaced since the 1974 Turkish invasion reached €365 million between 2013 and 2021.
Opening the event, the Undersecretary to the President Petros Demetriou said today’s event is one of eight scheduled by the Presidency for the presentation of the policies, actions, projects and reforms associated with the plan “Cyprus Tomorrow.”
The plan “Cyprus tomorrow" is the legacy of Anastasiades’ administration to the next generation, the road map for the digital and green transition of our country” he noted.