Cyprus Mail

House to review law on pre-GMI pensions

House plenum will convene in January to discuss a bill on low income pensioners after President Nicos Anastasiades referred it back to parliament on the grounds it was unconstitutional.

Prior to the session on January 3 at 9am, the House labour committee will have to hold a meeting to discuss the reasons for the referral.

The bill concerns people who received a low pension until July 2014 and were beneficiaries of a complementary pension, also commonly known as the “small cheque”, and who did not file an application to continue receiving it when the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) kicked in.

On Tuesday, Cabinet amended the law on GMI to give such recipients who did not file for the allowance in 2014 an opportunity to do so by the end of 2018.

If passed into law by parliament, those who missed the deadline on November 30, 2014 will have until December 31, 2018 to apply.

The amendment specifies that applicants will be examined on the same criteria as those who had applied in 2014.

In a letter to House President Demetris Syllouris, outlining the reasons behind the referral, Anastasiades said the law, in the form that parliament approved was unconstitutional and violated the principle of equality.

He outlined the law passed by parliament had no safety net against individuals who could have had assets and deposits they have now had ample time to hide. The initial law does not provide for retroactive payment meaning there would be unequal treatment between those who applied on time and those with a delays submission who would be receiving a lot more benefits.

The amendments put safeguards in place, Anastasiades said, and urged parliament to vote in favour of it.

Those eligible for the ‘small cheque’ have an income below the poverty line at less than €10,324 for an individual and €15,486 for a couple per year.

Annual expenditure was reduced by €18m due to savings to the state from those who did not submit the application.