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President refers widowers’ pension bill to Supreme Court

The supreme court in Nicosia

President Nicos Anastasiades referred a law passed by parliament earlier in the month on widowers pensions to the Supreme Court on Friday, after the house plenum did not budge on the bill, according to government spokesperson Prodromos Prodromou.

Earlier, parliament voted to not accept Anastasiades’ previous referral of the bill, which ended up back in the committees and was then sent for voting in the plenum.

Parliament’s decision to amend a government bill and make widowers eligible to benefit from the scheme immediately after applying regardless of when their wives died, was unconstitutional because it constitutes an interference of parliament in the affairs of the executive power, CNA reported on Thursday.

In its initial form, the bill made eligible those men who wives died on or after January 1, this year.

In his letter to parliament justifying his decision to refer the law, the president said that as a result of the parliament’s decision, the cost to the social insurance fund, which pays out pensions and unemployment benefits, would increase from a budgeted €3.4 million this year to €42.3m, while in 2019, it would increase from €6.5m to €43.7m.

By 2020, the social insurance fund would have to pay €44.9m in widowers’ pensions outlays instead of the earmarked €9.7m, which would further increase in 2021 to €46.6m from €13m.

The original government bill was given the nod by the cabinet in January, just days before the presidential elections.

The government’s stated intention was to correct an injustice at the expense primarily of men but also women: although both contributed to the social insurance fund (SIF), in the event of death, husbands were not entitled to a widower’s pension.

The plenum also decided on Friday to not accept the president’s referral of a bill for semesterly exams at schools.

Prodromou said: “In these cases, the president must refer these bills to the Supreme Court.”

On the semesterly exams in schools, the government spokesperson added that the Education Minister would be discussing with the education authorities and the parents associations. Prodromou said that the minister is expected to discuss the rules and procedures for the exams.

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