Greece Rejects Debt Collectors

Despite being owed 18 billion euros in social security payments, Greece won't turn to private agencies to get the money

ATHENS – Despite being owed 18 billion euros in unpaid social security payments from employers, Greece won’t turn to private agencies to get the money as demanded by international lenders.

The International Monetary Fund, which, along with the European Union and European Central Bank makes up the EU-IMF-ECB Troika that has put up 240 billion euros in two bailouts, has pushed the government for outside help.

The IMF suggested in its most recent report that a private company should be formed to monitor these debts and take action to recover them when necessary. But Greece has refused, the newspaper Kathimerini said, even though the amount owed is growing and the government has been unable to slow the losses.

This includes debts of 9.1 billion to the social security fund for the self-employed (OAEE) and 8.5 billion to Greece’s main social security foundation, IKA.

The government said it believes the new Center for the Collection of Social Security Arrears (KEAO) can do the job. The agency sends out two warnings to debtors and if it has no response 20 days after the second notice, it begins the process of trying to recover the money.

There are around 210,000 debtors and KEAO has sent out 93,406 second notices. It has begun the process of collecting around 1.1 billion euros in dues.

The notices it sent out led to people owing around 600 million euros arranging payment plans with authorities and those owing a total of 143 million euros paying their debts in full.

The IMF said the results are unsatisfactory and noted that Greece has not fulfilled its commitment to staff KEAO with 250 employees yet and that another 200 more will be needed.

The IMF says that KEAO should be given full access to the details of taxpayers’ assets currently held by tax offices and that any tax returns to individuals or businesses who are behind on social security contributions should be withheld so they can be used to reduce their debts to the funds.