ATHENS - Major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said if elected he would slash social security contributions and try to get private companies to participate in the pension system.
With his party holding big leads over Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Radical Left SYRIZA after the Premier kept reneging on anti-austerity promises, Mitsotakis appeared on Alpha TV and said he’d promote individual retirement accounts managed by private companies so that workers could invest to supplement their retirement income.
Successive governments the last eight years - including a previous New Democracy-led coalition - have cut pensions on orders of international lenders who put up 326 billion euros ($376.89 billion) in three bailouts since 2010, which expired Aug. 20.
Mitsotakis said high social security contributions have only increased notorious tax evasion and led to shortfalls in the system, with companies ducking paying and fewer workers putting monies into the scheme, leaving their own retirement benefits at risk.
He said he would propose a 5 percent cut over four years in contributions paid every month for primary social security, from 20 to 15 percent. Pensioners who had been putting into the system for decades saw 30 percent and more of their benefits stripped away, including from lump sums they earned.
Both wage-earners and their employers pay for social security coverage in Greece, while self-employed professionals have to pay so much that thousands have turned in their income books to take themselves off the rolls.
Cutting the contributions could pose a problem with the creditors, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) but Mitsotakis said he’d find a balance that wouldn’t interfere with mandated reforms and austerity.
He said he would change laws on furloughs for prisoners that allows two-day vacations from jail for all offenders, even convicted terrorists and assassins and others that allow early releases that was passed by SYRIZA. Mitsotakis said he’d also re-establish high-security prisons as the Leftists are moving to turn the only one, in Athens, into a detention center and move high-security prisoners to low-security institutions.