In 22 state primary schools in Nicosia, Cypriot pupils are in the minority, MPs heard on Tuesday as some said the shrinking population on the island has become critical.

At three schools in Nicosia there are no Cypriot children while at 17 other schools Cypriots comprise under 10 per cent of pupils.

All this, Chair of the House ad hoc committee on demographics Linos Papayiannis said, should “sound the alarm” for the ministers and the government.

The MP said the fertility rate last year stood at 1.4. Since then, there has been some increase due to births among migrants, something which he called “tragic.”

Lawmakers heard that on June 22 the state agency for tackling demographic problems will convene after a break of three years. The session will be chaired by the minister of labour, and two MPs have been invited to participate.

The agency has promised to look into the issue in detail and come up with solutions.

Right now, Elam MP Papayiannis said population replacement is driven by migrants.

Although important steps were taken in previous years – such as instituting paternity leave, expanding maternity leave, housing programmes for young people – these were not enough, Disy MP Prodromos Alambritis said.

At the upcoming meeting of the demographics agency, Disy will submit proposals on providing support to families, reconciling family life with career, and supporting births.

One such proposal is to amend laws to adjust taxable income according to the composition of a family. Other ideas include expanding all-day schools and remote work.

For his part, Diko MP Pavlos Mylonas spoke of prior complacency regarding the country’s demographics.

“What we used to consider as self-evident… where no one was concerned about the family and births, here we are today discovering that there will be no nation left, no children, no future. At least action is being taken, even if at this late hour.”