By Peter Stevenson
THE government is looking into all allowances and benefits in order to create the fairest budget under the current conditions while still imposing the necessary cuts, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said yesterday.
Daily Politis reported yesterday that instead of decreasing the amount of overtime worked by public servants by 15 per cent, as had been agreed at the end of 2012, the figure had gone up in the first half of 2013.
Cyprus Mail sources at the finance ministry confirmed that some government departments had logged more overtime since the start of the year but that efforts were being made to make the cuts.
The ministry confirmed that these cuts would be made to shift-work allowance, overtime allowance, overseas allowance and accommodation allowance.
The allowances for shift work and overtime are large parts of the state budget and Finance Minister Harris Georgiades is tasked with reducing it next year by €700 million.
Salaries for state officials and civil servants will be reduced by three per cent from the start of 2014 and the abolition or reduction of allowances will contribute to reaching the ministry’s goal for next year’s budget, the source said.
The acting government spokesman told reporters that the Cabinet had yesterday discussions on next year’s state budget which is due to be submitted on October 3.
“Preliminary discussions were held on the subject and the finance minister will consult the other ministers in private to finalise proposals and suggestions made during the discussion,” he said.
The Cabinet approved a proposal by the industrialists union OEV to finance a new project titled ‘Healthy working conditions, modern enterprises’, which is part of the Operational Programme – Employment, Human Capital and Social Cohesion Programme 2007-2013, co-financed by EU.
“The project aims to bridge the gap caused between economic and operational pressure caused by the economic crisis on small sized businesses and the need for proper and effective implementation of labour legislation,” Papadopoulos said.
He added that the programme would last for two years and that its budget could possibly rise to almost €2 million.