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Christofias vetoes costly refugee law.


George Psyllides

AS EXPECTED, President Demetris Christofias will veto 'populist' legislation giving the children of female refugees the right to be classed as refugees, the government said yesterday.

The bill creating a whole new costly class of refugees in Cyprus, was approved by parliament on Thursday despite warnings from the government that it would derail public finances with the bill coming to as much as e1/4100 million annually.

Yesterday, the government said the bill was unconstitutional since Parliament has no right to take decisions burdening the state budget.

"The President of the Republic is obliged to defend the constitution and the separation of powers," government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said. "Due to this he will refer the law to parliament."

When the president refuses to sign a bill into a law it is sent back to parliament, which can review it or insist in leaving it unchanged. If parliament insists the fate of the bill will be decided by the Supreme Court.

Stefanou said approval of the law was a "blatant violation of the principle of separation of powers. Ignoring the data, which suggested not taking such a decision C* in our view constitutes populism."

Stefanou said the deputies who approved the bill themselves recognised it was unconstitutional but they insisted in taking the decision.

"A decision like that cannot be taken for such an issue, amid a huge economic crisis, simply to satisfy a specific group of the population," Stefanou said.

The bill left it up to the government to choose when the law should come into force.

Some 15,000 people aged between 20 and 35 are currently eligible if the law comes into.

Its implementation would allow the children whose mothers are refugees to apply for some e1/440,000 as aid to buy a first home if they are married. Those who are single receive e1/413,000 with a view to receive the reminder when they get married.

Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis has said that the state would need to impose new taxes and cut benefits to foot the bill.

"Unfortunately we have not found a mechanism as a government to print money," Stavrakis said on Thursday.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jun 5, 2010
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