Cyprus Mail

Cabinet approves €4.5m to prop up ‘small cheque’ for pensioners

Public servants still receive by far the highest pensions, two to three times as high as other private sector retirees and much higher than the average wage

THE Cabinet approved on Friday a €4.5m plan to increase the pension bonus, also known as the “small cheque” due to the size of the amount, granted to low-income pensioners.

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said this would mean someone receiving €150 a month would see an increase to €170.

Depending on the category the pensioner belonged to, there will be a relevant increase.

“Today’s cabinet decision has amended, for the better, the support scheme for low-income pensioners, known as the small cheque.”

As the plan concerns 2016, the increased amount will be paid retroactively from January. The total expenditure of this amendment is around €4.5m,” Emilianidou said.

Although the plan was already drafted, the state intended to approve it in June, “so it would not be conceived in any way as a pre-election campaign.”

Nevertheless, the decision to approve it sooner stemmed from criticism that ministry services had received for scrutinising bank statements from applicants – as required by the law – to ensure if they were eligible for a cheque, she said.

Emilianidou added the state had saved €3.3m from cutting back on money paid to those no longer eligible.

A scheme approved in 2009 required interest rates on deposits should be included in the documents of whoever applied for the small cheque.

“The €3.3m concerns the recovery of overpayments for amounts that were illegally not declared and it was the state’s duty to recover.”

Emilianidou said this was the first time there were proper checks and controls in place to ensure any funds from the state went to people that really needed it, the vulnerable groups of society.

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