By Peter Stevenson
ALMOST 3,000 wives and husbands of deceased former government employees are receiving a state widow’s pension, at least 24 of which have been paid out for more than 50 years, according to figures from the treasury.
The figures were released following a request from DISY MP Marios Mavrides.
“I had asked to be informed on slightly different matters involving how many state widow pensions are paid abroad and the how much money the state pays for these pensions every year but it would appear the treasury does not have those figures,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
He said that the state widow’s pension was designed to support the family of a former civil servant or state official if they passed away, and not to become an income for a young widow or widower.
“There are cases of men who might have lost their wives and remarried a younger woman, possibly foreign, and then later passed away,” he said. “The government should not be expected to pay that woman for the rest of her life”.
Mavrides added that MPs would discuss a proposal to change the law so if a civil servant or state official remarries then their subsequent widow or widower would not be eligible for the pension.
A total of 2,913 people, 2,672 women and 241 men are currently receiving a pension from the government after their spouses, who were civil servants or state officials, passed away. They will receive that pension for life.
Until recently state officials and civil servants had hardly contributed, if at all, to the state widows’ and orphans’ fund, from which the pension is paid.
Twenty-four people have been receiving the pension for over 51 years while there are still 115 eligible widows and widowers aged between 91 and 101, figures revealed.
According to treasury statistics there are currently 112 women and three men aged between 91 and 101 who are still receiving pensions.
Between the ages of 28 and 40, a total of 26 women and four men receive pensions.
From 41 to 50 there are 47 women and 12 men, from 51 to 60 there are 239 women and 31 men, from 61 to 70 there are 694 women and 85 men, between 71 and 80 there are 920 women and 73 men, and between the ages of 81 and 90 there are 634 women and 33 men receiving the pension.
Pensionable earnings include basic salary, pay rises and the cost of living index but 13th salaries are not included. From this year, following the government’s signing of the
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the troika all civil servants and state officials will have to contribute three per cent of their pensionable salaries towards the widows and orphans fund.