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Treasury resumes pensions for serving state officials

Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides
Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides

The Treasury said Thursday it will resume paying the pensions of currently serving state officials, following legal advice it received from the attorney-general’s office.

In a statement, Accountant-General Andreas Antoniades said he received a letter from the attorney-general where the latter advises that the Treasury’s decision not to discontinue payment of these pensions was the correct one.

In the letter dated January 30, the attorney-general informed the Treasury that “your administration’s handling of the matter [i.e. not to discontinue payment of the pensions] has contributed to the Republic not having to unjustifiably incur legal costs because, had the Treasury continued suspending payment of the pensions…the success of the litigants would be a given.”

In effect, the attorney-general was arguing that any of the state officials deprived of their pension would have gone to court and won.

Antoniades went on to say that the Treasury adheres to laws and regulations as they apply at any given time. Whenever new legislation concerning multiple pensions comes to parliament, the Treasury will provide its own feedback.

Recently Antoniades had received a letter from Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides, demanding that payment of state pensions to serving state officials be immediately stopped as these were illegal. Michaelides cited the laws from 1980 and 1997 which barred an official from carrying on collecting a state pension after being appointed to a state post.

After that, Antoniades said he would seek a legal opinion from the attorney-general – the only official qualified to provide such advice.

About 160 state officials, retired and currently serving, are on multiple pensions. For example, there are state officials like the president and four ministers that are collecting a state pension while also collecting a state salary. Despite an attempt by the legislature to end this state of affairs, a law it passed in 2014 was ruled unconstitutional by the courts, on the grounds that a pension was the property of its recipient and could not be taken away.

The government has meantime decided to rationalise the law surrounding multiple pensions, promising to bring a bill to parliament soon.

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