Cyprus Mail

Government modifies pension cut proposal

The government has modified its proposal to cut the social pension, raising the monthly income threshold from €1,191 – the poverty line – to €2,000 a month.

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 for 2014 by better targeting benefits to those who need them more, such as the unemployed.

In a meeting with the unions on Monday, the minister proposed the incremental cut for those making over €2,000 (monthly household income), an improvement on the originally proposed €1,191 which is poverty-line level.

The original proposal infuriated unions who had accused the government of targeting low income families. The unions argued that maintaining the €1,191 limit would result in 3,000 women losing their pensions.

The proposal is not yet final and must go to the finance ministry, probably within the next week.

Right-wing union SEK chief Nicos Moiseos said targeting social pensions is a step in the right direction. “We would be satisfied if low income didn’t suffer from the financial crisis at all but we live in dire financial times”, said Moiseos. He said union’s willingness not to dismiss the proposal was a testament to its understanding of the measures the government has to take.

Left-wing PEO boss Bambis Kiritsis, claimed that the government backed down from its original proposal due to public pressure. “This is a message to the government and the people. That rising up against the government is worth it because it produces results”, said Kiritsis.

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