President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades expressed Cyprus’ full support to the International Labour Organisation’s human-centered agenda put forward by the Global Commission report, providing for increasing investment in peoples’ capabilities, increasing investment in institutions of work and increasing investment in decent and sustainable work.
“It is my strong and firm belief that it is only by collectively adhering to the aforesaid principles that we can achieve growth, social justice and prosperity, for current and future generations,” he said addressing the ILO’s Conference held in Geneva.
Anastasiades recalled that Cyprus has adopted the Organisation’s tripartite structure, through which representatives of the government and the employers and workers’ Organisations exchange views and elaborate collectively labour standard policies.
The President noted that Cyprus increased significantly its cooperation with the Organisation following the economic crisis in 2013 and praised the ILO’s “invaluable technical assistance, particularly through the Actuarial Valuation of our Social Insurance Scheme and on the issue of the Minimum National Wage.”
Anastasiades also recalled that Cyprus’ key objectives of our policies, amongst others sought to adopt a prudent fiscal policy, with well - targeted expenditure policies, maintain a stable and competitive tax and legal regime so as to safeguard our comparative advantages as an attractive investment destination for International Businesses, promote measures and incentives which would facilitate economic and investment opportunities, support lower and middle-classes, not only by holding off the enforcing of new taxations, but particularly by lowering taxation levels or even fully abolishing some taxation levies and pursue significant structural reforms, amongst others, as regards the pension, welfare system, the health care system and tax administration and enhancing the labour market system.
“The combination of our new economic and social policies, the resilience and strong foundations of our economy, as well as the sacrifices of the people but, above all, the constructive stance of our social partners led to maintaining labour peace and an impressive recovery,” he said.
The Cypriot President also highlighted that unemployment has drastically fallen to less than 7% with a declining trend, there has been a parallel increase on real Gross Domestic Product per capita while income inequalities, as measured by the Gini coefficient, as well as the risk of poverty and social exclusion have improved considerably.
As a result of the economic growth it became feasible to implement a series of measures to the benefit of all employees and the vulnerable groups, thus strengthening the social safety net,” he went on to say.
He referred to the introduction of the Guaranteed Minimum Income Scheme covering increased beneficiaries, the establishment of the National Health System which entered into force on June 1st, 2019, the raising of allowance received by low-income pensioners, including granting Easter and Christmas allowances, the introduction of paid paternity leave for 15 days, as well a the restoration of the system of the annual wage indexation for employees.
The President however noted that despite the progress we have achieved, we do acknowledge that maintaining social justice, further reducing unemployment and enhancing quality and decent working conditions, needs constant attention and evolution of our policies in order to adapt to a constantly changing labour market environment.
In this regard, he added, “we are continuously developing and implementing national plans to address the challenges of the future of work by tackling the skills mismatch through in - work – training, re-skilling and up-skilling and by promoting entrepreneurship.”
“With the valuable technical assistance of the ILO and the contribution of our social partners, we intend to engage in a dialogue to establish a national minimum wage, once conditions of full employment are in place,” the President concluded.