ATHENS – A new furor developed in Greece over reports that the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA appoved monthly pensions of 8,000 euros ($8917) and 24,000 euros ($26,752) in one case for bank executives, managers of state-run utilities, lawyers, notaries, civil engineers and even journalists who paid into the former ETAP-MME primary pension fund.
That came after former premier Alexis Tsipras slashed benefits for low-come pensioners and piled on taxes for workers, pensioners and the poor while letting politicians, the rich, tax cheats, shipping tycoons and the oligarchy largely escape a 9 1/2-year economic and austerity crisis.
The new New Democracy government’s Labor and Social Insurance Ministry said it would recalculate all high-end pension rates that were granted until the 2016 so-called Katrougalos Law named for a former SYRIZA minister who pushed lower rates for most pensioners.
The new government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis identified the categories of the privileged who would get exorbitant pensions after other beneficiaries had seen theirs slashed as much as 30 percent or more under austerity demanded by international creditors who put up three bailouts of 326 billion euros ($363.39 billion) since 2010.
New Democracy accused SYRIZA of allowing loopholes in a 2016 omnibus law that had cut primary and supplementary social security benefits, ruled legal by the country’s highest court which said they were in the national interest.
Those set to receive the pumped-up pensions, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, were high-ranking and well-paid executives and professionals who paid into their fund for more than 35 years. Some beneficiaries made social security contributions to two funds. After Jan. 1, 2019, , a maximum ceiling for monthly social security payments was abolished.
A SYRIZA former deputy minister, Tassos Petropoulos, said the outgoing Tsipras government was not given “enough time” to legislate “corrections” to the law, while the previous minister in charge of the benefits, Efi Achtsioglou, charged that the New Democracy government was “lying.”