Some 200,000 persons (23.9 per cent of the Cyprus population), or one in four, are at risk of poverty, participants of a two-day discussion in Nicosia organized by Cyprus and EU-wide anti-poverty networks heard.
The two-day debate, entitled ‘Assessing the Fight Against Poverty and Social Exclusion in Cyprus and Europe’, was organized on the occasion of the 30thanniversary since the establishment of European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), and the 15th of the National Anti-Poverty Network Cyprus.
The discussion was attended by the members of the Bureau of the EAPN from 6 countries, among them the President Carlos Susias. Cyprus is one of the 6 countries which has a seat at the Bureau, the others are Spain, UK, Austria, North Macedonia and Norway.
Presenting the outcome of the discussion at the Cyprus Workers Confederation (SEK) headquarters in Nicosia on Friday, Nicos Satsias, speaking on behalf of the union, said that for a long time, poverty seemed non-existent in Cyprus, and was only brought to the surface following the 2013 financial crisis.
“Poverty is a reality and needs to be tackled with sound policies,” Satsias said. “It is shocking to see fellow citizens completely unable to meet their basic needs. The poor are no longer invisible.
He added that the annual income threshold for a person to be considered at risk of poverty is €9,302, but he stressed that the numbers do not reflect the reality as no one can claim that a person with an annual income of €10,000 a year has escaped the poverty line.
Satsias said that the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) in Cyprus was a measure towards the right direction in tackling poverty, but noted that there are certain distortions that need to be managed by the Government, while certain provisions were not implemented.
Conditions have now changed, Satsias added, as rents are higher and do not reflect the conditions based on which the GMI was decided. An assessment will take place on the GMI soon, Satsias noted, allowing stakeholders to suggest improvements.
Satsias also referred to the national minimum wage, which he said is also in the right direction, but similarly requires urgent reforms if the island is to ensure that it provides a real social economy for its citizens.
EAPN Head Carlos Susias said that the 2020 strategy includes the goal of reducing the poverty line by 25 million citizens.
He referred to the Network`s actions since its founding 30 years ago, asserting that the phenomenon of poverty is social and economic and requires not only sound strategies and planning but also media and civil society awareness, NGOs, universities, and various organizations, so that people living in poverty can finally have a voice.
Susias also noted that EU policies must be accompanied by the necessary funds and resources so ensure proper implementation.
He also said that both EAPN and its Cyprus chapter have the same goals and are fighting for the same purpose: a fairer EU with social policies and actions for the benefit of its citizens.