Cyprus Mail

Law on GMI to be amended to stop beneficiaries being cut off

Legislators are amending the law on Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) to stop the practice of terminating outright giving of benefits to beneficiaries deemed to be no longer eligible.

The House labour committee is drafting a legislative proposal where, instead of terminating GMI to a recipient if he or she is found not to meet the criteria, the benefit will be suspended until the beneficiary files supporting documentation.

The difference, explained MP Andreas Fakondis, is that until now whenever the labour ministry detected that a recipient was no longer eligible, GMI would be automatically terminated and the beneficiary obliged to file an appeal.

But the appeals process typically takes a long time – up to eight months in some cases. In the interim, beneficiaries are left without any income.

Under the proposed change, GMI recipients will be notified in advance that they don’t satisfy the criteria, and the benefit will be suspended, rather than terminated.

Upon notice, individuals will then have 20 days in which to file the required documents to prove they are still eligible for the benefit. If he or she is then deemed eligible, GMI payments will resume immediately.

The text of the legislative proposal provides that the relevant government service must process beneficiaries’ requests “within a reasonable timeframe.”

Fakondis said they’ve received assurances from the labour ministry that the processing of these requests will not take long.

But should it turn out that, under the new system, requests likewise take too long to examine, MPs will revisit the matter and specify a timeframe.

Approximately 22,000 families are enrolled in GMI.

GMI was introduced in 2014 to streamline the benefits system and improve means-testing.

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