Draft dodging has been reduced to 7 per cent from 20 per cent in 2016 after the government cut the army service and put measures in place to discourage people from securing exemptions on medical grounds, Defence Minister Savvas Angelides said on Thursday.
Briefing the House defence committee, Angelides said cutting the military service to 14 months from 24 in 2016 had contributed immensely to the reduction of draft dodging.
In 2017, the minister said, draft dodging had dropped to 12 per cent and under 10 per cent the year after.
To date, draft dodging stood at 7 per cent, he added.
Together with the reduction in service, the government also banned athletes temporarily exempted for psychological reasons from being issued a medical card, which is necessary for them to compete.
Angelides said young athletes now opt to serve their military service and are afforded the time they need for training.
Those receiving temporary exemptions are also banned from possessing a hunting shotgun and hunting licence while other measures were being considered, mostly relating to public service employment.
“All these are in the right direction and the political parties are our allies because the only objective is to sensitise the youth about the mission, we all have towards our country,” he said.
The minister told MPs the government was also considering the introduction of on the spot fines for reservists who failed to report for duty.
In September 2018, the ministry introduced a volunteer reservist scheme as part of an overhaul of the National Guard’s reserve forces, which included reduction in time-wasting and an increase in annual attendance accompanied by a cut in duration.
Angelides said the scheme had yielded positive results since reservists had a better attitude and training was more productive.
However, the ministry was considering certain measures to further reduce the number of skivers, including fines. Angelides said fines would cut red tape and on the other hand, it would deter people from not showing up.
The minister did not have an amount to announce but he assured MPs it would be high enough to prevent people from opting to pay the fine instead of showing up.