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SYRIZA MP under fire for receiving Christmas bonus for low-pensioners

The solidarity aid system has a huge hole and grants money to those who already have it. An acting lawmaker from ruling SYRIZA received the so-called “13th pension” an extra aid for low-pensioners distributed by the government last Christmas. But the issue raises also questions  about the pensions in Greece’s banking sector, pensions that remain high and often ‘uncut’ despite the fact that austerity laws apply for everybody else. Including the real low=pensioners of the private sector.

In the social security system for pensions, MP Gerasimos (Makis) Balaouras is registered as receiving 850 euro per month. He was within the upper limit of low-pensioners the Prime Minister granted an extra income, paid once, and therefore a beneficiary.

He was entitled to receive the 13th pension in form of 300 euro.

The distribution was done automatically through the electronic system of the the pension funds and not after applications by beneficiaries.

The case was revealed by STAR TV.

Speaking to media, Balaouras said that when he realized the extra ‘pension’, he informed the pension fund and donated 150 euro to the Pensioners Association Solidarity Fund of the BoG and another 150 to the Strike Fund of the Employees Association of BoG.

Balaouras, 66, is pensioner as former employee of the Bank of Greece.

He told ANT1 TV, that his pension was cut at 70% because he has been received a salary as lawmaker. He was first elected to the Greek parliament in the elections of January 2015.

There has been criticism against him because he neither informed the media about the problems of the system nor he returned the money to the fund.

Asked about the issue, Balaouras told reporters he did not consider to “go public thinking it the issue affected only him” and it was “not a general problem.”

But the biggest problem is that most likely also an unknown number of other pensioners-beneficiaries received the extra bonus although they should not be eligible.

There has been often criticism about the so-called ‘solidarity aid’ for low-incomers occupationally given by the state. Often the set criteria do not cover all the necessary parameters with the effect that needy are exempted from the aid.

In the whole debate that has now broke out in Greece, I did not hear the crucial question:

If 30% of the pension of an employee of the Bank of Greece is 850 euros

How much is the 100%?

I’ve heard also by other pensioners of the Greek banking sector that their pensions did not underwent cuts despite the bailout program who are in effect for any other Greek pensioner since 2010..

For example, the Supplemental Pensions Fund of the National Bank of Greece has been reportedly exempted from the Unified Supplementary Pensions Fund but also from the austerity pensions cuts that have been implemented to all other pensioners.

The NB Fund gives supplemental pensions of 350-500 euro in the average, however there are former executives receiving more than €1,300 per month – and that’s only the supplemental pension.

According to a report from July 2016, the fund has an monthly deficit of €7 million, as the contributions of €2.5million are not enough.

The deficit is not new, it first emerged 10 years go and got worse after the early retirement programs of the recent years.

According to the report, there have been suggestions form time to time to address the problem but “to date no one dared to open a front with the NG employees, especially the pensioners, let alone the current government.”

10,000 banking personnel near retirement were to see cuts 21%-30%. The regulation was to be implemented last September for employees of Emporiki, Pisteos and Attica Bank.

I have no idea what happened. Nobody seems to care really. I have never seen the issue on the headlines.

PS Powerful unions grant and secure powerful benefits…

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4 comments

  1. This is not exactly the case. He only returned the money when the pensioners’ or employees’ association of the bank made his case public. And then, only nine days after the publication.
    We have to understand that these 153 Quislings were hand-picked (using a list of his own after the last elections) by Alex as candidate MPs. They were chosen in his image for their willingness to betray and their low morals.
    The person in the article is the manifestation of this.

  2. The September 2015 elections were held on priority lists of candidate MPs defined by each party. In our case, Tsipras made his lists in accordance to the level of loyalty of each candidate to him. As he had already sold out to the Germans, he literally prepared and hand-picked his Quislings. This explains the blind block YES vote on anything he brings, without anybody reading anything.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      it’s more decision of the party, not the PM. SYRIZa operates differently than the conventional parties