Reaching the end of his ten-year term, President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday said that Cyprus Tomorrow, the government’s recovery and resilience plan constitutes his legacy.
“I consider it an imperative duty to the people to report the deeds of the government, but also the work connected with the work that produced the Cyprus Tomorrow plan, which through 56 reform forecasts and 74 investment actions, will constitute my legacy for a modern European state,” he said.
He was speaking during a presentation of the reforms, social policies and development projects implemented or planned within the framework of the plan in the sector of welfare state and inclusive society.
The president said the event was in a way a political memorial to the late Zeta Emilianidou, former Labour Minister, as it was originally due to take place the day after she suffered a brain aneurysm.
“The first chapter or pillar is the obligation of the state to build a real welfare state without exclusions, sensitive and capable of assisting the needs of all people, but especially those who need state care and protection,” he said.
Anastasiades then went on to detail the pillar’s five sections, each of which is focused on a separate aspect of the welfare state.
These also include the introduction of a minimum guaranteed income and the establishment of a national minimum wage, which according to Anastasiades will benefit 40,000 low-wage workers and 60,000 other members of the public.
The establishment of national health scheme Gesy is another reform the president mentioned, saying it has helped the most vulnerable groups of the population.
Also involved are measures to support the elderly, such as the establishment of a minimum guaranteed pension, “which ensures that no pensioner will live below the poverty line”.
These reforms include the institution of a widow’s pension for men as well, in addition to the introduction of paid paternity leave and the extension of maternity leave by four, six and eight weeks depending on the number of children. A woman’s right to maternity leave for children obtained through a surrogate mother was also secured, the president said.
“Family law is in the process of being reformed and modernised, with bills that are before the House of Representatives and I hope that within the next few weeks they will be voted into law,” he said.
The president said that during his term, four benefits that had previously been abolished were reinstated, with a total annual cost of €22.5 million concerning people with disabilities, large families and low pensioners, increasing existing benefits by €78.2 million per year.
“The significant increase in the expenses of 2013 compared to those of 2021 show an increase of 24 per cent,” he added.
“The fight for a welfare state does not stop with specific actions, because exogenous or other unpredictable factors, such as pandemics or wars, may create new obligations for the state,” he said, saying that for this reason “a completely flexible, accessible and citizen-friendly system of social solidarity is needed.
“The future planning and actions included in the Cyprus Tomorrow Plan are part of this direction”.
Closing off, Anastasiades concluded that despite what has been achieved and envisaged by this chapter of the Cyprus Tomorrow Plan, it would be impossible to ignore the reality being shaped as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent consequences of the sanctions that imposed or likely to be imposed on Russia.
It is a new exogenous economic crisis that results in inflationary trends, price increases and a consequent reduction in the purchasing power of citizens, with a particular impact on the vulnerable groups of the population, he said.
“I want to assure you that we will deal with the current crisis with the same sensitivity and efficiency with which we dealt with both the economic crisis of 2013 and the health crisis of 2020, within the state’s financial capabilities,” he said.
Anastasiades finally said he had “a clear conscience, because I responded to my pre-election commitments to create a real welfare state without exclusions, supporting in practice those of our fellow citizens who are in need.”