By Staff Reporter
Preparations by the government for the introduction of the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) welfare scheme are in the final stretch, with applications set to be delivered to 54 post offices around Cyprus by Thursday, the Labour ministry announced on Tuesday.
Applications will be available in various colours to facilitate more effective processing. Cypriots will fill out blue applications, EU-member state citizens will apply on green paper, third-country (non-EU) nationals on orange, welfare recipients on pink and low-pension receivers on grey. The Labour and Social Insurance ministry expects a flurry of applications approaching 100,000, of whom 90 per cent are expected to be eligible.
Additionally, welfare recipients – eligible candidates by default – may receive their applications from their local Social Welfare Services office, and must submit their application by August 11. Recipients of low pensions must submit their application by September 8, and all other applications may be submitted at local post offices or posted to 46, Themistoclis Dervis ave, MEDCON Tower, 1066 Nicosia.
According to the ministry’s announcement, a GMI hotline will go live on Thursday, offering information on GMI provisions. The number to call is 22 460460 and it will operate daily except Sundays, from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.
To help with timely processing, the ministry has announced it will be hiring 50 people from the pool of registered unemployed with at least a high-school leaving diploma, and placed them at post offices. The candidates will be selected by draw in each district – 31 in Nicosia, eight in Limassol, seven each in Larnaca and Famagusta, and four in Paphos – and will be reimbursed with a monthly €870 for three months, with an additional two-month extension option.
Interested candidates, the ministry’s announcement said, need to submit their interest via the ministry’s website, www.mlsi.gov.cy by July 20.
But while the first stage of the GMI scheme is all but ready for launch, labour minister Zeta Emilianidou reiterated her focus on the scheme’s second stage, which relates to the social duty of Social Welfare Services to eligible candidates.
The scheme’s ultimate aim, according to Emilianidou, is the activation of its beneficiaries so that they return to the employment market or a training programme so that they can be weaned off temporary GMI disbursements.
In this context, the ministry plans to strengthen the role of the subsidised care service scheme, aiming to fulfil the real needs of a person or family. The ministry is also looking at engaging registered unemployed into the scheme to help serve the needs of pensioners or families with children.
The GMI bill is a government effort to overhaul social welfare by bundling all welfare benefits into a single scheme, with the simultaneous creation of a universal welfare recipient registry to help weed out duplications and abuses of the system.
Using indicative figures including the average cost of rent in Cyprus, cost of living and entertainment and others, the government has arrived at a base figure of €480, with several items added depending on family, employment and income status.
The GMI bill was passed by last Thursday’s plenum after a heated debate and delays of weeks at the House.