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Cyprus

Bill passed for social insurance instalments

Parliament on Thursday unanimously passed a bill allowing the payment of overdue social insurance contributions through 54 monthly instalments instead of the 48 proposed by the government.

The bill provides for a minimum instalment depending on the amount owed.

For social insurance arrears up to €500, the instalment is €25; €50 for between €500 and €1,000 owed, and €75 for over €1,000.

In its bill the government had proposed 48 monthly installments, but after deliberations MPs agreed to raise this to 54.

It also gives a person until December 31 of this year to apply to enter the repayment scheme. Individuals classified as belonging to vulnerable groups, on welfare or recipients of Guaranteed Minimum Income may apply for the scheme by July 1, 2017.

The first instalment must be paid at the latest on the last day of the month on which a person has accepted the scheme.

A person will be considered as having reneged on the agreement if he or she does not keep up with the instalments scheme after three months, not two months as in the original draft bill.

MPs said the new modified arrangements are aimed to facilitate people amid the ongoing financial squeeze.

The previous bill had been approved by parliament on April 14 but it was amended by opposition parties, which raised the number of instalments to 60 from 36.

This prompted President Nicos Anastasiades to veto the bill and send it back to parliament.

The president argued that the increase in the number of instalments would affect the sustainability of the fund.

Anastasiades also raised the issue of unequal treatment as the increase in instalments appeared to favour those who owed large amounts of money.

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou told MPs last week that people owed around €288 million to the fund. The aim of the bill was to prevent people from going to jail for small amounts owed to the fund.

More than half of the debtors were self-employed.

 

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