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State budget sees 14-fold increase in civil service positions

School
Image: Writix (https://writix.co.uk)

A fourteen-fold increase in civil service positions from what was initially projected has been provided for in the 2024 state budget, the bulk of which are teachers, it emerged on Friday.

This is in part because positions in education were exempted from restrictions on recruitment, to avert staffing problems in schools and to serve their increased needs.

In particular, the upcoming budget includes provision to fund a total of 732 newly created permanent posts, instead of the original 52 submitted for approval last October.

The news comes despite the claimed intentions to limit government size in order to restrain the state payroll, set to reach €3.7 billion next year.

The latest amendments approved by the council of ministers and forwarded to the House, foresee the creation of 680 new positions, of which 604 are positions under the ministry of education.

According to a note from the ministry of finance, the additional annual expenditure for educators is small, given that the filled positions reduce the numbers covered by temporary staff, of which around 27 are to be abolished.

The additional cost amounts to €1.97 million and the total cap on expenditure allocated for teaching staff payroll, will not be affected, the ministry noted.

A total of 202 new secondary teaching positions are to be created (at levels A8, A9 and A11), with an additional annual expenditure of €627,008, along with 59 new technical school positions, at an annual cost of €183,136.

Also, 121 new primary teacher posts will be created, as well positions for 161 special support teachers and 61 kindergarten teachers. The additional annual expenditure for these roles will amount to €1.16 million.

According to amendments, which the finance committee is set to scrutinise on Monday, the 76 remaining positions include stenographers for the courts and the legal service; officials in the protection of personal data and children’s rights offices; and staff in the deputy ministries of innovation and tourism, and the ministry of agriculture.

Also included are staffing requirements for the newly formed deputy ministry for migration, and the ministries of energy and labour.

According to data presented to the House in the past three years, a total of 784 new state positions have been opened. In 2023 the additional jobs amounted to 485; in 2022 the number was 238, and in 2021 the additional jobs were 61.

The budget increase for next year stands at €64 million and additional costs from state amendments for 2025 will reach €29.4 million, while in 2026 a decrease of €1.6 million is expected.

Among other things, the state amendments provide for €30 million for subsidy of electricity costs for the months of November 2023 to February 2024, covering residential, commercial and industrial consumers.

Also, additional costs of €12.5 million are foreseen, to cover the implementation of the “renovate-and-rent” plan; €6 million for the creation of a new reception centre for unaccompanied minors; €5.6 million for the first-time housing scheme; €5 million in credit for deportations during the first half of 2024; and €1 million for plot allocation. A grant of €500,000 grant is also earmarked to support public media.

Funding for a study by the University of Cyprus’ economic research centre on integrated tax transformation and improving application of sanctions, commissioned by the  ministry of finance, is also covered within the budget.

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