December 16, 2017

Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world

Statement by the Third Committee delegate, Monica Pachoumi, 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development, United Nations, February 4, 2016

Item 3(a) Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world

Mr Chair,

My delegation aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union and would like to make some remarks in its national capacity. 

Mr. Chair,

Since the Copenhagen Summit in 1995, the need to put people at the centre of development was given significant attention. Yet, progress has been uneven.

The importance of social policy and social development is stressed in Agenda 2030, which recognizes its role for attaining a people-centred, inclusive and integrated sustainable development. Cyprus has committed to imlement nationally the Agenda.

My country has suffered an economic crisis since 2011, exacerbated by the global financial economic crisis. Through a difficult reform process, we have achieved to return to economic stability and growth since 2015. The financial crisis has made clear and more urgent the need for reforms and modernization in the policies of social protection and development. With a number of reforms, we are aiming to reach long-term solutions for existing gaps and to avoid piecemeal approaches.

In the area of economic development, we are working toward diversifying economic activity and thus providing more opportunities for employment. While unemployment remains high, we are working toward decreasing it. We are also implementing a National Action Plan for Youth Employment, on the basis of a study by the International Labour Organization on the labour market of Cyprus. The plan includes investment in areas such as education and vocational training and life-career orientation.

Furthermore, we have proceeded with pension system reform, which has secured the viability of the system through 2060. We have also introduced welfare reform in 2014. In particular, we have replaced various public assistance benefits with a single Guaranteed Minimum Income benefit. The benefit aims to increase take-up and coverage to all those who need it. It covers costs of everyday needs, including healthcare and transportation, as well as housing costs, taxes and care needs. Reform of the health sector is under way and we plan to introduce in 2017 a transitory programme before moving on to the final stage of the reform, by providing universal health coverage.

Mr. Chair,

Despite the economic crisis, we have not allowed a decrease in the disability sector expenditure. On the contrary, we have introduced significant reforms, notably with the establishment of a new System for the Assessment of Disability and Functioning, based on the relevant World Health Organisation classification. We are also currently in the process of reforming existing legislation on legal capacity and supported decision-making of persons with disabilities, considering gathering all disability social benefits in one law, and of upgrading measures for vocational rehabilitation.

Furthermore, we are working toward reforming the public administration, in order to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability, we have created a unified system of tax collection, we have improved the use of data informing our policies and we have been increasingly involving the civil society in consultations on public policies.

Mr. Chair,

The future of social development will be crucial in ensuring equality and the well- being of our societies. It is important that we continue our work in strengthening the social dimension of sustainable development and in modernizing social policies. In this regard, the Commission for Social Development can be an important platform of contribution to the review and follow-up of Agenda 2030.

Thank you.