More than €5m a year in cash handouts will be allocated to 20,000 residents of 110 mountain communities who live at an altitude of 600m and above, starting this year, the government announced on Wednesday.
The financial benefit, which had been suspended in 2011, having been first in introduced in 2003, is in addition to money allocated by the state for the ongoing development of mountain and rural areas.
Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides, during a meeting on Wednesday with the union of mountain communities, said the move had been approved by the cabinet on Tuesday as a support measure.
Various amounts will be handed out ahead of each winter period, and the amount will depend on the altitude, and status and age of the residents. The first payments will be made in September or October this year, Petrides said, and would be included in a supplementary budget.
Petrides said, for instance households at an altitude of 600-800 metres would receive a one-off payment of €175. Those living at an altitude of 801-1,000 meters would get €225 and households located at more than 1,000 metres would receive €260.
In addition, the minister said, an additional €85 would be paid to each pensioner and €165 to each non-retired person. This is because the ministry feels younger people living in rural areas, especially if they have a family, have greater financial needs.
“It is very important to help mountain communities survive,” said Petrides.
“All Cypriot and European nationals, including workers, who live permanently in communities with an altitude of more than 600 metres and have been settled in the community for the last two years have the right to financial assistance,” he added.
People who have holiday homes in the mountains will not be entitled to the handout, he added, neither would non-EU citizens even if they live permanently in the included communities. Also excluded would be third-country domestic workers who live in the home of a beneficiary, and also nuns and monks who reside in monasteries in the mountains.
Petrides said the head of each household must submit the application on a special form available from the interior ministry, district offices, the union of communities, and the citizens service office in Pelendri. They must be submitted between May 2 and May 31, 2019. Applications submitted by hand or postmarked after that date will not be accepted.
Speaking after the meeting, the president of the Union of Communities Andreas Kitromilides welcomed the decision, noting that the benefit had been stopped in 2011.
He said that after a huge effort and the help of the interior minister, it had now been restored.
“This will help the permanent residents of the mountain areas who make a great effort to keep their communities alive,” he added.
For more information:
Interior ministry: 22 867600
Pelendri citizens centre: 25 813400
Union of Communities: 22 672576
All information is also posted on the interior ministry website at www.moi.gov.cy