Scrapping the “poverty allowance”, a social aid for low pensioners, is one of the conditions of the summer 2015 agreement between Greece and the European troika. The cuts would be initially start in March 2016 for several thousands of beneficiaries and the aid would be totally scrapped as of 2019 affecting 120,000 people. The implementation of this year cut has been delayed and is expected to go into effect this month.
I assume, that creditors had calculated that these 120,00o EKAS pensioners-beneficiaries would be dead by 2019… as the cuts, the tax rises and the V.A.T. hikes would drive them to death, anyway.
For example: monthly pension of €664 consisting of main and supplementary pension will not receive the poverty aid of €172 anymore. For pensioners living alone or couples with only one pension EKAS was a divine gift that helped them make it through the month.
Today, daily Eleftheros Typos claimed that the government will ask back the paid EKAS from 70,000 beneficiaries who are not beneficiaries anymore and thus retrospective the EKAS given from December 2015 until May 2016.
The news triggered an outrage among opposition parties and media.
Of course, the money is not available anymore. It has been spent in doctors’ visits, food, medication, electricity bills or even to support jobless children.
The daily noted that they money will not have to be returned in cash but to be deducted from pension payments in several installments.
Which means that the ex beneficiary will have to come through several months with …what? … €492 per month over a period of the next 6 months?
According to some media, one high-ranking official from the Labor Ministry assured that EKAS will not have be given back. Another high-ranking official from the same Ministry said though, that the EKAS will be paid back in 12 installments.
However the Labour Minister decides, the at the end, the measure will affect the vulnerable groups of the society again, when the Value Added Tax hikes and the extra taxes and fees are expected as of next month, June.
Of course, this is not the first wave of cuts in EKAS and it is still hard to understand the income criteria that have been implemented since 2011, in the context of the 1. bailout agreement.
PS we never understood why the EKAS of €200 was cut from my mom who had a pension of €490. That was in November 2011. We went from here to there and from up and down in the social services and IKA and whatever a Greek bureaucratic human thinks is possible and we never managed to find out why. We gave up trying.