Disy deputy Onoufrios Koulla has asked state treasurer Rea Georgiou to waive his pension as a former civil servant and plans to examine ways of correcting the legal anomaly that allows him, at 42, to receive a pension while serving as a government official, it emerged on Thursday.
In a letter to Georgiou, Koulla, who won a seat in parliament last May, explained that his election forced him to leave his job at the finance ministry and he said he had been informed by her department that, as a former civil servant, he was entitled to a pension, along with his remuneration as deputy.
“Given that I am 42 years old, I must say I find this extremely surprising,” he said, asking to waive his right to a pension for as long as he holds any post in government.
In case payment of his pension has already been approved, Koulla asked Georgiou to adjust his salary as deputy accordingly, so that the commensurate amount can be deducted.
According to daily Politis, which broke the story, the law entitling “any civil servant leaving his post for public office” to a pension was passed in 1997.
A 2011 amendment to the law removed the cabinet’s right to award a higher pension than the retired civil servant’s years of service allowed and suspended the pension for “the duration of the retired civil servant’s term in office”.
But the law was appealed by 52 individuals and the Supreme Court ruled in October 2014 that the clause suspending the right to a pension was ruled unconstitutional.
A subsequent legislative proposal tabled by Diko in April reintroducing the suspension in a constitutional way has yet to make it to committee-level discussion.
Although not alone in retiring from the public sector for a seat in parliament, Koulla is the only sitting deputy to have waived his right to a state pension.
The pension had been waived by former Edek deputy Nicos Nicolaides, while the pensions of President Nicos Anastasiades, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, interior minister Socratis Hasikos, and labour minister Zeta Emilianidou are paid into the Social Support Fund, which finances university studies for poor young people.
Attorney-general Costas Clerides’ pension is paid into the government’s consolidated fund.