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Interior Minister Presents Measures for Refugees
2008-06-12 11:11:58

Nicosia, Jun 12 – Refugees entitled to state aid will be receiving an increase in their allowances as of July this year, according to the new housing policy approved by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.

Minister of the Interior Neoclis Sylikiotis presented the policy on Thursday, noting that it includes revising the grants and loans through the Housing Plan, as well as subsidizing the rent for displaced persons and those suffering the consequences of the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Regarding the housing policy for the refugees, Mr. Sylikiotis said the current financial assistance given to purchase an apartment or a house is increased from an average of €19,735 to an average of €53,100, reaching up to €68,000. He said this increase had been announced by the government during the pre-election period.

Assistance to build a house on a privately owned plot of land is also increased from €19,735 to €53,100, reaching up to €68,350. Furthermore, assistance to build a house on a government-owned plot is increased from €18,146 to €26,900, reaching up to €31,610.

Income criteria for the grants are increased by 30%, while the discount for each dependant is raised from €1,025 to €1,280.

Mr. Sylikiotis said efforts were being made to secure the provision of plots to all those entitled. He added that over the past years there had been some delays, noting that there are plans for all districts.

For housing in a government settlement, the income criteria are raised by 33%, that is from €15,380 to €20,500, while for the first time a discount for each dependant is given, worth €1,280.

Mr. Sylikiotis pointed out that, despite the 1994 decision not to expand the government housing estates, efforts are being made to save space by building blocks of flats.

Regarding the plan to subsidize the rent to those entitled, Mr. Sylikiotis said there would be a 5% raise, while the annual gross income criterion would be increased by 10%.

Referring to the revised Housing Plan, he explained that it addresses small communities with less than 500 inhabitants, as well isolated communities, 35 kilometers from urban centers or at an altitude of over 400 meters. The loan given for the purchase or building of a house or flat is raised by an average of 27.5% and reaches up to €102,517, while the grant is increased from €13,669 euro to €17,087.

This housing plan does not have any income criteria and the interest is subsidized by two thirds. Furthermore, the grant given to families of disabled or multi-member families is also increased.

For home improvements or maintenance or extension of a privately owned house or flat, the loan given is increased from €10,252 to €17,087, while the grant is increased from €6,835 to €8,543.

Mr. Sylikiotis said the new measures were proof of the government's determination to fully implement the program announced before the elections, which is characterized by social sensitivity and solidarity.

Replying to questions, Mr. Sylikiotis said the new measures would be sent to the House of Representatives for the approval of additional funds and that the state will begin implementing its plans in July, since there are already enough funds to start. He also said that the Cabinet approved additional funds worth €25 million for the plans for the refugees and €5 million for the Housing Plan.

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