Recession-hit Cyprus on Wednesday launched a 340-million-euro drive to combat record joblessness and help small businesses struggling with a credit squeeze triggered by the a painful eurozone debt bailout.
President Nicos Anastasiades announced a plan to get Cypriots back to work by offering incentives to small and medium-sized companies – the backbone of the economy – and creating jobs in the resort island’s tourism sector.
Anastasiades said the 10 measures announced are aimed at bringing 7,500 people back into the work force and providing aid to 2,000 needy families.
The deep recession has seen the number of Cypriots relying on food parcels reach an estimated 40,000.
Anastasiades said 300 million euros will be made available through commercial banks, while the other half of the funding for the employment schemes will come from the European Investment Bank.
Unemployment in Cyprus already stands at a record 17 percent after decades of near full employment, and is expected to rise to nearly 20 percent next year.