Parliament on Thursday extended the deadline for Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) applications for low-income pensioners and welfare recipients until November 30, 2014.
The extension only applies to those who failed to file a timely application for health or other serious reasons.
It is the third time the government has extended the GMI application deadline.
According to data presented to deputies on the House Labour committee after the deadline expired, some 2,700 welfare recipients and 11,400 low-income pensioners had failed to apply.
Around 260 applications by welfare recipients and 92 by low-income pensioners were filed after the deadline.
Labour committee members removed a clause from the bill that mandated applicants to justify their failure for not submitting an application within the initial timeframes, but the change was rejected in the plenum.
Committee chairman and AKEL MP Andreas Fakontis said that the results from implementation of the GMI scheme proved his party’s warnings right, and claimed that 20,000 low-income pensioners and welfare recipients had not applied for GMI.
He also noted the delay in processing applications by the government; “2014 will go by and there will still be outstanding payments,” he said.
He added that the GMI scheme is being “funded by the poor to cover the poorer,” noting that the government saved €15 million by cutting complementary pensions.
DISY deputy Nikos Nouris responded that no beneficiary had been denied any benefits, and argued that the delay in reviewing applications was due to missing information.
DIKO deputy Athina Kyriakidou also claimed the delay in evaluating applications had to be remedied, adding that another group – that of the unemployed – must also be taken into account.
EDEK deputy Roula Mavronicola said there were numerous complaints of from welfare recipients about payment delays.
“The government must look through the applications immediately and make the necessary payments,” she pled. “There are many unemployed. In a month it will be Christmas time and these people must celebrate Christmas.”