By Constantinos Psillides
Finance minister Harris Georgiades said yesterday that cuts to what is known as the ‘social pension’ would only affect those elderly people who were better off than the average.
Unions say 3,000 women will be left without a pension. The ‘social pension’ is given to those aged over 65 who did not contribute, or under-contributed to social insurance, mainly women who were homemakers. The state’s aim is to save €10m by better targeting benefits to those who need them more.
Initial reports, regarding the proposed social pension cut, said that it will affect people over the poverty line – set at €1,191. If such a criterion was imposed, around 3,000 people would have been affected, according to the labour ministry. The total number of those affected remains to be seen, once the government unveils its final proposal.
Georgiades underlined that the state would not be cutting benefits from low income families. Deputy government spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos said on Monday that what the government was after was a just system, where the social pension was reserved for those in real need and not multimillionaires “who haven’t had to work a day in their lives”.
The finance minister reminded that the government proposal was still at an early stage and has not been finalised yet. A finalised proposal is expected within the coming weeks.
Labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Saturday that money saved from targeting social pension would be utilised to help other groups in need, such as the unemployed.
Opposition parties AKEL and EDEK said that they would vote against any such proposal in the House, while EVROKO asked that each case is reviewed individually.
DISY supported the government attempt at targeting social pension cuts, with party leader Averof Neophytou saying he would meet the finance minister in the coming days.
Right-wing trade union SEK issued a press release on Tuesday, saying that they agree on the need to target social pension spending. Union boss Nicos Moiseos said that the union was examining a proposal from the government and will give their final view on the subject on Friday.