Support for local businesses affected by the pandemic will continue to prevent a rise in unemployment despite the gradual restart of the economy following the improvement of the country’s epidemiological picture, ministers said on Saturday.

“We will continue the support to the companies that showed a decrease in turnover for as long as they need,” Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said after a meeting with Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides and Disy leader Averof Neophytou at a Nicosia cafe.

The ministers said they are in communication and are expected to assess which sectors of the economy will continue to receive financial support by the state, based on the reduction of turnover.

Financial management during the pandemic must be flexible and continuously reviewed based on changes in the health sector and in the market, Petrides said.

“Support will certainly not stop suddenly in sectors that need it, always taking into account the sustainability of public finances,” Petrides said.

Cyprus debt-to-GDP ratio remained lower than 120 per cent throughout the 15 months since the pandemic outbreak.

The finance minister said that mainly it is the “state and the taxpayer’s money” that supported the market.

According to Emilianidou, the support to workers and businesses will continue after May “so as not to increase unemployment dramatically, but also not to see businesses closing down, especially small and medium-sized enterprises”.

Unemployment in Cyprus is at 7.5 per cent compared with 2019 when unemployment was 7.2 per cent according to European statistics.

Like all European economies in 2020, the Cypriot economy shrank, by 5.3 per cent.