AKEL appeals to the government for direct support to SME’s
Statements by the General Secretary of AKEL A.Kyprianou after meeting SYMEA delegation
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 27th July 2020, Nicosia
We had a meeting with the Trade Union of Small and Medium–size Businesses and Self-Employed workers (SYMEA), during which we exchanged views on the problems Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SME’s) and self-employed working people face. They conveyed to us essentially the same message we have been receiving all these past few months from the contacts we have had with all small shopkeepers, but also self-employed people. It is a message of despair about the huge problems that have been accumulated in their field and which unfortunately, the government has not tried to solve to date.
AKEL therefore comes back to the issue and is adamant that the government must provide direct support to SME’s and self-employed people. The €100 million decided does not represent substantive support. Cyprus will receive a large amount from the EU, approximately 1.5 billion euros for grants. The President of the Republic celebrated because Cyprus was allocated this money. I hope and wish that this amount is really given in the form of grants to the economy and especially to the SME’s which constitute – as we all admit – the backbone of the Cyprus economy. For that reason, they need immediate support, not loans. No SME is going to go and borrow – and on the terms that the banks will decide – in order to pay its rent or the salaries of their employees.
The second big problem that still exists is the issue of rents. Unfortunately, the government has done absolutely nothing to date on this issue and if it really wants to support SME’s and prevent the chain-reaction closure of hundreds and perhaps thousands of SME’s across Cyprus, it must decide what steps it must take to support these businesses so that they can pay their rent.
Furthermore, the issue of auctions is still hanging like a Damocles sword over their heads. If the government does not realize that a large number of businesses are in danger of losing their professional premises as a result of the legislations approved by the majority of the House of Representatives, if they do not realize that this legislation needs to change, then the problems that will be provoked will be enormous. The Cyprus economy will go through a very dangerous phase and many small businesses will be forced to close.
So, the appeal we address once again to the President of the Republic, to the Minister of Finance and the government in general is that they hear the cry of despair sent out by the SME’s, the self-employed and to take measures that will provide real support to them and not just to be superficial support measures for this specific category.
As far as we are concerned, we shall continue to support them with all our strength, both inside and outside Parliament. But I want to make it clear that it is not enough for AKEL to support them. SME’s need to have the support of the majority of political parties and, above all, of course the support of the government.
In conclusion, let me refer to another issue that has been pending for a very long time, for a few years now, and is a real wound for the cohesion of Cypriot families, namely shop working hours on Sundays. The Minister now has the responsibility in her hands and our appeal to her is to exercise it in order to ensure that only those shops that are located within really tourist areas will remain open on Sundays. Besides unfortunately, it appears that this year as far as tourism is concerned we have lost the game.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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