Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said Tuesday that the Government aims to invest in the country`s human capital and create a modern labor market with well-trained human resources that can effectively respond to the ever-changing conditions and growing challenges and demands of the modern economy, in his speech at the 29th Pancyprian Congress of SEK trade union. The speech was delivered on behalf of the President by the Minister of Finance Constantinos Petrides.
The President said that in the last years the Government has put special emphasis on the protection of workers` rights and the deepening of institutionalized social protection. He also referred to the future actions of the government in that context.
Among them is the completion of the social dialogue for the introduction of the minimum wage, based on the studies that have already been prepared by the Ministry of Labour with the support of the European Commission and the International Labor Office.
Furthermore, he referred to the revision of the Social Security System and the relevant Legislation, with the aim, of simplifying the Legislation for the benefit of the citizens and strengthening the coverage of the self-employed and workers with new forms of employment.
He also referred to the promotion of a pension reform for equitable pensions for all.
The President also spoke of an assessment of the current situation in the Social Security Services in relation to the organization and procedures and the study of good practices of other European countries. He said there would be a redesign and simplification of the procedures of the Social Security Services and training of the staff, for the digital transformation of the Social Security Services.
At the same time, he said ensuring that jobs provide good wages is essential to ensuring adequate working and living conditions, building a fair and resilient economy and supporting inclusive growth.
The President also praised the positive contribution of SEK in managing the pandemic crisis.
“The conditions created by the pandemic temporarily stopped a five-year course of extremely positive progress in the field of employment. Between 2015 and 2019, 72,118 new jobs were created, a net increase in the number of employees of 20.9%", he noted
He added that through the cooperation with the social partners it was possible to significantly mitigate the effects of the pandemic, by providing support to the majority of employees in the private sector and the self-employed, but also to the unemployed by extending the unemployment benefit for an additional 18 months, in addition to 6 months of unemployment from the Social Insurance Fund.
According to the President, support for employees, the self-employed and the unemployed to maintain their incomes and jobs has been extended to more than 210,000 people and amounted to more than 760 million euros from March 2020 until today, which brings the Republic of Cyprus in the second place out of the 27 countries of the European Union in percentage of workers that were supported during the pandemic. He also referred to the support of companies with one-off sponsorships for their operating expenses over 160 million euros, in addition to any other sponsorships and support they have received from the state.
"As a result of the efforts of all, but also of the targeted moves of the Government, from the second quarter of 2021 the economy records again positive growth rates while unemployment follows a significant downward trend reaching according to the latest data to 5.2% which is the lowest level since 2009.," the President said.