COVID19: Cyprus welfare spending spiked 108% during outbreak

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Cyprus welfare spending spiked to €513 mln in the first four months as the state launched support programmes to safeguard employment as people stayed home during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to data published by the Treasury, welfare spending for the period of January to April reached €513.6 mln a steep increase of 108% compared to €246.9 mln spent in the same period last year.

Welfare spending peaked in April at €169 mln compared to €70 mln in April 2019.

The increase in welfare spending is associated mainly with the Covid-19 outbreak and the payments for the National Health Scheme.

The Ministry of Labour ranked first for spending among central government services and departments with €153 mln in April.

For the period January to April, the Ministry’s expenditure reached €407 mln compared to €330 mln in the same period of last year.

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou told the Parliament that €219 mln was paid from mid-March to Mid-May in various schemes to ensure people didn’t lose their jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Central government budget (excluding state-owned enterprises and local authorities) generated a deficit of €294 mln from January to April, compared to a surplus of €283 mln in the same period of 2019.

This was due to lockdown measures that began in mid-March, combined with increased spending and taxation deferrals.

State revenue declined 13.5% on an annual basis during the first four months, while state expenditure rose 16.5%, according to the Treasury.