Members of the parliament’s ad hoc committee on demographics and migration agreed on Tuesday to discuss ways of tackling the low birth rate in Cyprus.

Committee chair Elam MP Linos Papayiannis said in what was its first meeting, they discussed irregular migration, the low birth rate and the need to modernise existing legislation.

In the first phase, he said, a report will be prepared with the suggestions of parties on the low birth rate.

They will also discuss the migration issue in another meeting, he said.

Disy MP Prodromos Alambritis said it was important to find ways of supporting families, especially those with many children. He said the birth rate in Cyprus had dropped to 1.3 children per woman while an increase has been recorded in those aged over 65 and a decrease in those under 18.

Diko MP Zacharias Koulias linked the low birth rate with the rising numbers of migrants. He said the benefits aimed at boosting births and supporting families that were slashed during the economic crisis ought to be restored.

Koulias also said while in other countries when arrivals of irregular migrants exceed 1 per cent of their population, it is considered a security issue, in Cyprus numbers have reached 4 per cent.

He said his party has raised two very important issues for discussion by the committee concerning stricter regulations for third-country nationals who arrive in Cyprus to work and for asylum seekers.