Asylum seekers: In 4,4% of the population - 12.200 applications in 2021
At 3.856 applications for political asylum in the last 2 months - 85% came from the occupied areas - "The situation has reached a tipping point" warns the Minister of Interior
The Republic of Cyprus is currently facing unusual migratory flows, while only for the months More than 3.856 asylum applications were submitted in October and November, stressed the Minister of Interior Nikos Nouris, emphasizing at the same time that the percentage of applicants and beneficiaries of international protection corresponds to 4,4% of the population of Cyprus, which "is, for the fifth consecutive year, the Member State that receives the highest number of applicants for international protection by population".
Welcoming him at the 15th Congress of the Free Labor Center SEC Nicosia - Kyrenia, Mr. Nouris stressed that "the situation is deteriorating day by day, which forced the President of the Republic to contact the President of the European Commission asking for extraordinary support and assistance for crisis management ".
Mentioning that "The situation has now reached a tipping point", the Interior Minister said that overall to date for 2021 more than 12.200 asylum applications have been submitted, of which the 85% concern persons who have passed irregularities in the free areas from the occupied, through the green line. He added that "the instrumentalization of immigration by Turkey is more than obvious."
He stated that the Government's efforts "focus mainly on the examination of manifestly unfounded applications and already from 01/01/21 when the new immigration policy is implemented, we 12.518 negative decisions».
"Unfortunately, where we suffer together with the whole of Europe is in the returns. "And that is why, in addition to the effort to protect the green line, which will be strengthened and strengthened, in the field of returns we have proceeded with the conclusion of return agreements with so-called safe third countries", he noted.
He also said that illegal immigration is an important issue that, among other things, unfortunately fuels the phenomenon of illegal work, adding that "the illegal employment of foreigners, which some experts use to maximize profits, exacerbates unemployment and deprives jobs for the local workforce ".
"What I want to assure you is that, despite the difficulty of the project and the fact that we expect more support from the EU in these areas, we are moving forward on our own, because we simply have no other choice," he said.
Regarding the developments in relation to the Local Government reform, Mr. Nouris said that "we are close to the completion of this marathon course" and added that what is of interest at the moment is not just to have any end to its process. reform.
"However, we consider that large deviations from the government proposal, especially in the issues of the new entities that will emerge, pose risks for deviation from the expected result", he stated and added that the demand for the Government is "the entities that will emerge to be economically viable and administratively independent and able to provide quality services to citizens, at the lowest possible cost, with savings being invested in the development of the local community itself ".
"I am sure that with the same consensus that has occupied everyone lately, we will continue until the end, so that this huge reform effort in favor of the citizens becomes a reality" and "for this reason alone we agreed to postpone the elections for the Local "Local government", he added.
Finally, the Minister of Interior congratulated the SEC for the responsible attitude, as he said, "which has shown in this difficult period of the economic crisis, but also for its significant contribution - together with the other social partners - in shaping the social policy and employment policy ".
"Through this cooperation, it was possible to significantly mitigate the effects, in combination with the support that the Government provided to employees in the private sector, to the self-employed, but also to the unemployed," he noted.
Regarding the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Nouris said that "the Government managed with the timely and targeted measures taken to deal with it, but also its generous benefits to gradually reduce the unemployment rate, with the data to "They confirm," he said, "that the economy has begun to re-enter a path of growth and the creation of a positive economic outlook" and that public debt has already fallen to 104% of GDP from 115% in 2020.
Referring to the Government's efforts to improve the business and economic environment, but also to job creation, Mr. Nouris said that with these policies "and other initiatives we managed to keep the unemployment rate at 7,5% with downward trends when in other European countries the average unemployment rate is higher ".
He referred to the new strategy for attracting companies and investments, which concerns the policies for facilitating existing companies but also to attracting foreign companies that wish to operate in Cyprus.
He also said that the new policy for urban planning and building licensing is an important reform and added that "the Government creates modernized, simplified, more efficient, transparent and, above all, faster procedures for serving citizens and investors, so that our country can become an attractive investment destination for sustainable and long-term development ".
The Minister of Interior said that already in the field of licensing, guided primarily by the interest of the citizens, from October 1, 2020, "we are implementing a significant reform intervention, the granting within 10 days of urban and building permits for residential development, up to a two-story house." adding that to date the new procedure has benefited a total of around 3.700 applicants.
"The intention of the Ministry of Interior and we have already announced it is from June 1, 2022 to extend the scope of this rapid licensing mechanism to larger and more complex developments, in order to help strengthen the activities of the construction and construction sector," he stressed.
The third and last step for the completion of the rapid licensing policy, according to Mr. Nouris, is the Law on Facilitation of Strategic Investments, which covers the so-called large investments, over 25 million euros. He added that the relevant bill has already been submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Interior.
In relation to the Plans for the Provision of Urban Incentives, Mr. Nouris said that an extension was given to the validity of the Urban Incentives until the end of 2022, which were widely accepted and utilized by citizens and investors.
Finally, Mr. Nouris assured that "a constant pursuit of the Government is to invest in the human capital of the country and create a modern labor market with well-trained human resources that can respond effectively to the ever-changing conditions and growing challenges and requirements of the modern economy, but also of society ".
"The contribution of SEC to the struggle for better and more dignified working conditions, for the improvement of workers' earnings, social security and the establishment of solidarity and democracy in the workplace, but also in society in general, is both indisputable and long-lasting," he concluded. .
In his greeting at the Conference, which was attended by, among others, the President of DISY Averof Neophytou, representatives of parties, MPs and representatives of the Labor Centers of Greece, SEC Secretary General Andreas Matsas said that Cyprus has gone through a difficult period in managing the effects of the pandemic, both economically and in the labor market.
"We have succeeded in using the institutional framework, as social partners together with the Minister of Labor, to create the necessary background to support employees, employment and entrepreneurship," he said, adding that "this effort has helped so that today we can see the future of this place optimistically on the basis of the opportunities created for economic recovery ".
Mr. Matsas referred to four main goals set in the Labor Advisory Board, such as the reform of the pension system, which ensures that no pensioner will be paid below the poverty line.
He also said that the institutional framework of the Labor Advisory Board should be used to regulate the national minimum wage so that we can be sure that unfair competition between both employees and companies is largely eliminated.
Citing data, Mr. Matsas said that these confirm that the minimum wage works to help employees and the sustainable development of businesses, removes gender discrimination as a result of the payment gap and creates a dynamic for further recovery and growth of the economy in the context of of social justice.
Regarding the third goal of the Labor Advisory Board, the Secretary General of the SEC said that it is that of regulating telework and added that there is the necessary framework so that we can adjust it for the benefit of employees to operate efficiently and productively in order to improve of the labor market.
Finally, Mr. Matsas said that the fourth issue concerns the revision of the employment strategy of workers from third countries "so that we can give more breath to the labor market, covering the jobs that exist and can not be filled by local labor."
In addition, he referred to the need to create another dynamic as a result of the positive parameters that are being deleted in the economy and announced that "the policy of requests of the SEC in the immediate future presupposes significant increases in wages and improvement of similar benefits."
He said that in the private sector, SEC is in the process of renewing collective agreements and added that the improvement of salaries and similar benefits based on the realities of the economy has been achieved.
Regarding the Recovery and Sustainability Plan, Mr. Matsas said that "it is time to implement the SEC's recommendation to promote green economic reform so that we can support employees by taxing environmental pollution", adding that more impetus to the growth prospects of both the economy and the labor market.
"We must take advantage of the Basis Recovery Plan and the reforms that are linked to our transition to the new digital age," said the SEC Secretary General, who called on the parties to look "positively at the prospect of reforms."
Referring to the Cyprus issue, the SEC Secretary General expressed the view that "we must be consistent with the times so that we can use the opportunities given to us at the moment to address the strategic policy pursued by Turkey of exhaustion to give more momentum and impetus, "he said," taking advantage of both our role as a full member of the EU based on the principles and values of the Union and the general geostrategic environment that is currently occurring and being redesigned in our wider region. "
In his introductory speech, the District Secretary Pampos Ioannidis said, among other things, that "despite the problems that have arisen in relation to the functioning of the labor market, as a consequence of health conditions, the immediate reaction of the state with close cooperation of the social partners has yielded positive results in terms of problem management ".
He stated that the social partners, in cooperation with the Minister of Labor, set two main priority axes, the support of the employment of the employees, as well as the support of the entrepreneurship.
"Through these circumstances, the role of the trade union movement and the other social partners was confirmed, in the design, consultation and implementation of support plans for employees, employment and entrepreneurship, which have given life to a significant number of employees. , unemployed and businesses ", he added.
Also, Mr. Ioannidis said that the utilization of the institutional framework, the social dialogue and the tripartite cooperation, creates the conditions and the prospects for full implementation of the plan of Resilience and Recovery of the Cypriot economy, with the possibility of raising the entire amount of money, contributing to way to consolidate the resilience of economic growth.