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Labour Minister confident about coverage of labour market needs

Minister of Labour and Social Insurance Yiannis Panayiotou has presented an outline of the work achieved by the Ministry during the first year of the current government, as well as the plans for the second year.

Speaking on 19 March, he, at the same time, expressed the certainty that most of the needs of the labour market will be covered as a result of the actions that the Ministry intends to undertake.

He also assured the sustainability of the Social Insurance Fund, reiterating the Government's intention for the first time in many decades to rationalise the investment policy of the Social Insurance Fund to stop the increase in the State's debt to the Fund.

Panayiotou took stock of the Ministry's work as it marks one year since the beginning of the Nikos Christodoulides administration. The Labour Minister referred to the significant results that have been achieved, citing, among other things, enhanced remuneration for workers, improved working conditions, better service to citizens and greater support for young workers.

In addition, he presented detailed data on the acceleration of the payment of unemployment benefits, according to which the process has been accelerated and now over 80% of claimants receive the first payment in about one and a half months from the first renewal of their registration in the unemployment register, as opposed to the long delays of the past.

In the second section of the presentation, Panayiotou presented the Ministry’s plans for the second year, which, he said, are based on better regulation of terms and conditions of employment, more effective staffing of the labour market, further support for working parents, a faster response to citizens' needs, drastic action against illegal employment, investment in learning and growth of workers, strategic upgrading of safety at work, etc.

Asked at the end of the presentation whether he believes that most of the needs of the labour market will be met as a result of the actions the Ministry intends to undertake, given the difficulties that many businesses face in finding suitable labour, Panayiotou expressed confidence that the labour market will be staffed according to its needs, using both domestic human resources and workers from abroad in cases this is not sufficient.

He also expressed optimism about the prospect of better cooperation between the social partners on issues related to labour market staffing and the arrival of workers from third countries, adding that in his view the economy would not be negatively affected by insufficient staffing of the labour market.

In response to another question on whether there was any area in the first year of the new administration where the Ministry failed to make the progress it had planned, the Labour Minister said that the President's programme of government was formulated in a realistic and rational manner, therefore there were no surprises in this first year of implementation of the government's programme.

He added that in the process it is becoming apparent that the social dialogue may take more time than initially estimated, but it is nevertheless necessary for consensus-based decision-making, while in the effort to speed up the review of various requests, physical constraints arise within the existing technological infrastructure, noting that in any case the Ministry has achieved the desired results in collaboration with its staff and all stakeholders.

Asked about the amount of the state debt to the Social Security Fund and whether there are measures to reduce it, Panayiotou said that the Fund is sustainable for the next and future generations and by continuing its careful management it will remain sustainable for many decades.

He added that the government has publicly expressed a clear political will to streamline the Fund's investment policy through the forthcoming pension reform, in respect of which the Ministry of Labour is in close communication with the Ministry of Finance so that, in parallel with the achievement of fiscal targets and the reduction of public debt, part of the Fund's capacity can be used for enhancing investments in response to the increased needs arising from the modern global environment.

He concluded by stressing that there is no cause for concern about the sustainability of the Fund and reiterated the government's intention for the first time in decades to rationalise the investment policy of the SSF to stop the increase in the State's debt to the Fund, which has exceeded €10 billion.

(Source: CNA/PIO)

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