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Economy

Hatzidakis: Radical Changes Needed to Transform “Problematic” e-EFKA

February 13, 2022

ATHENS – “The social face of EFKA (Greece’s state insurance and pensions body) must be proved in action. This is what we are attempting with the radical changes we are making,” Labour and Social Affairs Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) released on Sunday. The interview focused on the draft bill for modernising the Electronic National Social Insurance Agency (e-EFKA) that has been tabled in parliament.

Hatzidakis said the changes in the bill aimed to create the conditions where EFKA truly served citizens and did not torment them, while he criticised the opposition parties’ support for the current state of affairs within the organisation, saying that this “may satisfy some minorities within EFKA but obviously clashes with the interests and desires of the insured.”

The minister said the main change introduced is a system of incentives and performance checks, designed to attract capable staff and reward the best and most productive employees, while also ensuring that “there isn’t a regime of impunity”.

He also announced plans to table an amendment that will reduce the number of years of residency that ethnic or expatriate Greeks in Albania or the former Soviet Union need in order to qualify for a full pension, from 40 at present to 30. This will allow those who were unable to return to Greece before 1990 for reasons beyond their control to get a full state pension from January 1, 2022 as well as increasing the pensions that they already receive, the minister added.

Other amendments will extend the insurance cover for groups that would not otherwise qualify, such as the long-term unemployed aged 29-55 or uninsured elderly people, as well as those placed on furlough for at least two months.

Another measure will make it easier and quicker for uninsured elderly people to receive the Social Solidarity Benefit, as it waives the need to establish whether the recipient qualifies for a pension. Insteady, there will only be a check of whether they are receiving any kind of pension that is equal or higher than the benefit, which can be done very quickly.

In the interview, the minister justified the need for a special bill devoted to e-EFKA, explaining that it was the most problematic public-sector organisation, which accounted for 48 pct of all complaints about public-sector services lodged with the citizen’s ombudsman, as well as having a huge backlog of pension applications awaiting processing and huge delays in awarding pensions.

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