ATHENS – Greece’s sagging pension system, burdened with too many recipients and not enough people paying in as the population shrinks, will have pressure taken off as people getting benefits start dying, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos reportedly said, sparking an outcry, although he denied it.
Speaking at the 13th Annual Greek Roadshow organized by the Athens Stock Exchange in London, Tsakalotos said that “by 2020, 2030 or 2040 [older pensioners] won’t be here and therefore there will be no impact on the long-term viability of the system,” Kathimerini reported.
Major opposition New Democracy jumped on the comments, noting it echoed what Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) this month, even as he’s desperately trying to halt new pension cuts beginning Jan. 1.
He agreed to slashing the benefits again to satisfy international creditors, continuing to renege on anti-austerity promises but frantic now to rebuild support after his popularity has plummeted.
“The wish made by Mr. Tsipras at TIF for 1.5 million of our fellow citizens over 70 to quickly die has been repeated as a solution by the finance minister,” New Democracy said, chastising the government for using pensioner deaths as a plan to reduce the burden on the system.
Movement For Change leader Fofi Genimata said Tsakalotos’ remark revealed “insensitivity and cynicism,” but the finance minister said he didn’t say what was attributed to him and accused New Democracy of “trying to change the agenda.” He earlier admitted deliberately overtaxing the middle class so that the government could give handouts to lower-income pensioners.