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Cyprus

GMI recipients to be put to work, ‘but it’s not forced labour’ minister says

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou

The government’s Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) scheme will be entering its third phase, which entails finding jobs for recipients who were able to work, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Tuesday.

Emilianidou informed the House Labour Committee that the ministry was processing plans to train recipients, have them do community work, and the employment of recipients who were able.

“It’s not a matter of forced labour, but a matter of providing all the tools to people supported by the state at the moment, to reintegrate into the labour market through training,” the minister said.

GMI recipients would be activated through community work schemes so that they are able to re-enter the labour market.

“This is the objective.”

Emilianidou told MPs an effort was afoot to employ GMI recipients at hotels in Larnaca and Famagusta first, and then Limassol and Paphos.

The minister warned that this was an effort that would take time.

A new scheme was also in the pipeline entailing four months of on-site training followed by compulsory employment for eight months. The individual will continue to receive their GMI during the training period and the government will subsidise 60 per cent of their salary during the eight months.

The schemes were funded by the EU, the minister said.

The ministry was also considering using recipients who were builders, plumbers, architects, or similar, to repair the homes of vulnerable groups.

If it goes ahead, the scheme will be applied sparingly to avoid turning it into forced labour for those helped by the state, she said.

GMI was introduced in 2014, replacing the previous system of public assistance allowance, as the government sought to overhaul the welfare system.

GMI allowance has been set at €480 per person per month, covering basic needs. Income criteria apply while the total amount depends on the number of family members, disabilities, and so on.

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