Article by the General Secretary of AKEL Andros Kyprianou in the special edition of “Phileleftheros”: “The day after – How we move forward”

The pandemic has revealed the weaknesses and problems of the economy that the Government has all this time been hiding under the carpet of a supposed “success story”. It is estimated that the recession will reach unprecedented levels, increasing uncertainty and insecurity for a large section of society.

It’s difficult to tackle this crisis because the “recovery” of previous years was shaky and deceptive.

It is therefore necessary to reshape the Cyprus economy. The productive base of the economy must be expanded and the share of the primary and secondary sectors in the economy’s total production should be increased. The expansion of production in areas such as health, research and technology and higher education must constitute the key pillars of the country’s new developmental model.

In addition, anyone in touch with reality easily realizes the need to step up support towards small family businesses which are being hit hard by the pandemic. The proposal to grant state guarantees to businesses has developed into a fiasco, while the liquidity tools that have been announced by the government don’t seem to have worked effectively.

It is the working people first and foremost who are suffering from this crisis, just like the previous one. In the period from 2013 onwards, an unprecedented shift in national income in favor of capital has been recorded, at a time when working people’s share is constantly falling. Working people and small and medium-sized enterprises must be supported so that they can survive, through the elaboration of support schemes on the issues of rents, the suspension of evictions and auctions, etc.

An end must also be put to the deregulation of labour relations. Employers must be obliged by law to implement agreed collective agreements. For those workers not covered by collective agreements, basic labour rights such as the 13th month salary, holidays, overtime, leave, etc. need to be safeguarded through legislation.

As AKEL we have already proposed the introduction of an emergency scheme to provide socio-economic support towards families, which inter alia will also deal with the issue of housing (for example, installments and rents) and the provision of financial support for families with children studying.

Last but certainly not least, the Cyprus problem. Developments are not just critical, they are historical. Time is running out. Before our very eyes, Erdogan is stealing the future of Cyprus little by little. Realizing the urgency of the period we are going through, AKEL has submitted a comprehensive proposal to President Anastasiades as to what steps should be taken on the Cyprus problem.

If he really does not want to go down in history as the President of our island’s partition, he must proceed decisively. He should declare his commitment to the agreed framework of the solution, as set out in the Resolutions of the UN without any terms and preconditions and express his readiness to continue the negotiations from the point where they had remained with the 2014 Joint Declaration, the Framework of the UN Secretary General and the convergences that have been recorded, reaffirming that they still apply. He should reaffirm that he accepts political equality as described in the Resolutions of the UN. The President should also express the Greek Cypriot side’s readiness to submit at the appropriate time bridging proposals on the pending issues of the UN Secretary General’s Framework with the aim of reaching a speedy conclusion on a strategic understanding. He should indicate that with the conclusion of a strategic understanding, the issue of the involvement of the Turkish Cypriots on the issues relating to natural gas can be discussed. Furthermore, he should be bold enough to talk about the day after, the perspective that exists on these issues after the solution of the Cyprus problem.

The New Year finds thousands of working people in hospitals working hard in the conditions of the pandemic. Expressing a “thank you” is not enough for them. They need policies that will enhance the public health system and their daily work. It also finds thousands of other working people and the self-employed seeing their jobs and lives disintegrate. Thousands of people are wondering how they will make ends meet, how they will afford so many expenses without an income? Others who are isolated at home are living permanently with insecurity and fear. As AKEL we will not stop struggling for policies to be implemented for all of them, for the majority of society, for their needs and aspirations.

Source: Progressive Party of the Working People – AKEL – AKEL GS: The pandemic and the management of pending issues