By George Psyllides
The labour minister is asking for a change in the guaranteed minimum income (GMI) law to afford the cabinet the power to deal with special cases that do not meet the criteria.
Briefing the House Labour Committee, minister Zeta Emilianidou said each recipient was a separate case and it was impossible for a law to include all eventualities no matter how many amendments were made.
Commenting on the same issue last March, Emilianidou said parliament had changed the original legislation, which allowed the minister to issue decrees whenever necessary.
There are hundred of special cases, which cannot be dealt with because the minister or the cabinet do not have the right to issue decrees, she added.
“When the GMI bill was submitted, we knew that each case must be examined according to its particulars,” she said.
As is, the law cannot apply to anyone who does not meet the criteria, she said.
She told MPs of a foreign woman whose Cypriot husband had abandoned her with two underage children that she could not support but who did not meet the GMI criteria.
To be eligible for GMI people must be Cypriot citizens over 28. They must not have over €5,000 in the bank or own property worth more than €100,000 – excluding primary residences.
Other EU and third country nationals are also eligible under certain conditions, one being continuous and legal residence in Cyprus for five years.
GMI was introduced last year, replacing the previous system of public assistance allowance.
The minister said a person can apply anew for GMI if their savings have been spent on living expenses.
Since its introduction, authorities have examined 39,498 applications – 17,144 from Cypriots requesting assistance, 20,675 from state aid recipients, 641 from other EU citizens, and 1,038 from third country nationals, including political refugees and victims of trafficking.
For the first time, some 7,500 families, representing 17,000 individuals, were receiving assistance, the minister said.
Some 2,000 applications from state aid recipients were initially rejected because they did not meet the bank deposit and immovable property criteria.
Concerning a party proposal to lower the age threshold, the minister said each year would cost an additional €11m a year.
The cost for new recipients was €42m per year or €3.5m a month. An additional six million was paid retroactively.
Total cost per year is €160m.