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President in hot water over failing to declare pension (updated)

ΠτΔ – Πρόεδρος του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοιν

President Nikos Christodoulides failed to claim in his capital statement (‘pothen esches’) an early pension he receives from the foreign ministry on top of his presidential salary, it emerged on Tuesday as government spokesman chided opposition parties for their criticism.

Although not illegal for a civil service employee to claim an early pension after being promoted to a government position, Christodoulides, unlike other ministers in his cabinet, failed to put in his ‘pothen esches’ that he has been receiving €1,300 a month as an early pension from his time at the foreign ministry, when he was a general consul.

“It is at the very least surprising that opposition parties are firing pot shots at the government for the implementation of legislation which they know has existed for decades,” government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said.

“The legislation has specific and obvious goals which the legislature has not questioned or amended for decades.”

He said it was curious that the same political forces applied the same legislation but “see a moral deficit or heartlessness in others”.

The majority in the legislature, he added, is currently made up of the parties levelling criticism, who could “amend the legislation if they so wish”.

Christodoulides has reportedly not been reporting that he has been receiving the pension since 2018, when he was made foreign minister in former president Nicos Anastasiades’ cabinet.

Another three ministers are also receiving this pension while currently serving in the government without declaring it in their ‘pothen esches’, a report in daily Politis said. They are the education minister, the agriculture minister, and the undersecretary to the president.

The reasoning for the non-declaration in their case was that they did not have time to declare the pension in the ‘pothen esches’ form before taking on their position in the government.

Another three ministers reported their pensions, as they had already been receiving the sum prior to being named in the current government. Finance Minister Makis Keravnos is getting €4,151 a month, while Health Minister Popi Kanari is getting €4,191, and Energy Minister George Papanastasiou is getting €1,654 a month.

As far as the law is concerned, the president, like other members of his cabinet, is entitled to receive the pension, but eyebrows were raised when it emerged that Christodoulides had not reported the pension since 2018, when he became a minister.

Christodoulides will also be entitled to an annual pension for holding the role of president.

With this pension and a presidential salary, Christodoulides currently receives €10,019 a month (€1,300 plus €8,719 salary).

In light of the disclosure, opposition Akel called on the presidential palace to answer questions raised about the issue of early pensions being paid and not being reported on the ‘pothen esches’ form.

“For two days now there have been reports that the President and other government officials receive a civil servant’s pension along with their salary,” the statement said.

Akel called on the president to respond to these reports claiming he has been receiving a pension for eight years, since the age of 45, without having declared it.

“The public, who are suffering under conditions of unprecedented inflation, wants to know if the president or other government officials receive both a pension and the remuneration arising from their office. This may not be illegal, but it is certainly provocative in the current circumstances,” the statement said.

Disy said “the simultaneous payment of salaries and pensions to top government officials, regardless of age, is undoubtedly a provocation of society and a distortion which has existed for years.”

“The distortion must definitely be corrected. Disy will take initiatives to this end. Of course, something being legal does not mean it is also morally correct. Anyone can say no to something which may be considered their ‘right’”.

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