SYRIZA Slashes Subsidy Up to 70% for Low-Income Pensioners

FILE - Greek pensioners march against new belt-tightening measures. Athens, June 15. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bollari)

ATHENS – Relentlessly reneging on promises to help Greece’s most vulnerable during a crushing austerity crisis, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition will cut a monthly subsidy for low-income pensioners as much as 70 percent.

The bonus, known as EKAS, was designed to help the poorest pensioners that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he would protect before abandoning to meet demands of the country’s international lenders putting up a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($101.02 billion) he said he would never seek nor accept but did.

All intermediate bonus levels will be abolished, leaving a flat rate of 35 euros ($41.11)a month for all beneficiaries,including low-income pensioners who paid into private sector funds when employed and who will lose a big chunk of those contributions taken from their check and effectively stolen for their future.

The EKAS bonus allocated in November, which was included in regular pension payments, was from 28.75 euros ($33.77) to 115 euros ($135.08) for about 245,000 recipients, said Kathimerini.

A joint ministerial decision unveiling new and stricter income criteria is reportedly due within the week. Eligibility will require annual pension benefits – primary and supplementary as well as any other state benefits – to be under 7,022 euros ($8248) annually. The draft 2018 budget allocates only 82 million euros ($96.32 million) for EKAS, cut from 238 million euros ($279.55 million) this year.