articles | 19 June 2014

Cyprus approves Guaranteed Minimum Income Scheme

Cyprus' Council of Ministers recently approved the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) Scheme of €480 per person, as part of the social welfare system reforms.

The new bill, that will replace the current public assistance allowance, will be submitted to the Parliament for approval and will be put into force on July 1, Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance Zeta Emilianidou said, speaking to the press after the meeting.

Emilianidou added the GMI is set to €480 per person. In a household, the person’s spouse will receive an additional 50% of the allowance (€240), while if the family has children aged below 14 years, it will receive an additional 30% of the allowance (€144). The additional allowance increases to 50% in case the children are above 14 years of age (€240).

The GMI will also cover the rent of a family, or the interest rates that are equivalent to the rent. She noted that the rent will be calculated on the basis of the prices of the Districts of Nicosia, Limassol, Pafos and Famagusta.

She added the GMI will be targeted as criteria concerning income, movable and immovable property will be applied.

Emilianidou noted that the Ministry expects 70,000 applications for the GMI.

“But we should wait to see who will fulfil the preconditions, as there are a lot of criteria one needs to meet to be eligible of the GMI,” she added.

Replying to questions, Emilianidou said so far a total of 20,000 persons were eligible for state aid, of whom 8,500 are disabled persons.

“The new bill allows, for the first time, people who work part-time with very low income to apply for state support. Therefore, we estimate that an additional 10,000 persons will be eligible for the GMI if they meet the criteria,” she explained.

The new benefit will also include owners of immovable property based on certain criteria, something that was not applicable in the current system of state aid, which excluded those who were in possession of a small house or land.

Emilianidou noted that the Cabinet amended the proposed bill increasing the criteria concerning the primary residence. So a couple is eligible for the GMI, if it owns a primary residence of up to 150 square meters, whereas a family can apply if it owns a house of up to 300 square meters.

Concluding, Emilianidou said the GMI budget will amount to €255 million annually, increased by €25 million for the remainder of 2014 and by €50 million annually compared to the current system.

Source: Famagusta Gazette

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