Despite the ongoing economic crisis, some Greeks seem to live on another planet. It is mainly the country’s politicians and certain groups of the public administration who still think that the state is a cow they can milk even if they know that more than one million people are without a work and more than one third of the society is living in poverty. For sure, retired MPs do not give a damn about it.
Such greedy politicians are more than 160 former lawmakers who enjoy a luscious pensions after having served the public for at least two legislative periods. These MPs took advantage of a legislation that equalizes the MP’s salaries with the salary of the President of Greece’ top court Arios Pagos. They have appealed to courts demanding the retrospective return of the pension amounts that were cut due to the bailout agreements.
The total amount they claim is 15 million euros and could reach even 50 million if the courts rule in favor of all the appeals which are more than 160.
The controversial legislation gives the retired MPs and their families -if they are deceased – to claim retrospectively pension returns ever since 2009.
According to daily Eleftheros Typos, the “retrospective plan” refers to the reimbursement of wages and retirement differences arising for MPs after the equalization of their salaries with those of the President of the Supreme Court. The plan foresees that payment of the retrospective amount in six-monthly installments for those who are due to receive more than 50,000 euros. The total amount may be returned within up to 5 years.
For every months the state delays to implement the money return, the Control Council may fine the state with 3,000 euro per case.
According to media, the pensioners who appealed to courts are former lawmakers from socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy, the two parties that governed the country for more than four decades.
The decision triggered a social outrage and a political outcry not only form the opposition parties but also from the coalition government.
SYRIZA described the claim as “politically unethical” and “shameful.” The government is sending the message that “there will be no ministerial decision” to allow the claimed payments.
New Democracy leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, threatened to expel the pensioners MPs of his part warning those who will not withdraw their legal appeals that they “will set themselves out of the party.”
Also the Democratic Alliance (PASOK) called on the former lawmakers to withdraw their claims.
ND blamed the government saying it voted in favor of the legislation for the claim when it passed the so-called Katrougalos Law for the pensions and labor reforms. The reforms bill voted in 2016 included also cuts and ultimate scrapping of the poverty allowance (EKAS) for low-pensioners , cuts of 485 in new pensions, cuts of 50% in the supplementary pensions.
The equalization of MPs-Judges salaries had passed through a law in 2008. However, the ND had secured with an Article that retired MPs would not claim higher pensions. Before the bailout cuts, the MPs salaries and pensions were €8,500 and €6,500 respectively with a lot of tax-free allowances.
The first court decision on the issue was ruled in December 2015. The government appealed to court to cancel the MPs appeals but the court rejected the government objections.
The amount that can be paid to each retired MP could be 100,000 euro.
One should note that retired MPs normally receive a regular main pension and supplementary pension plus the one from the Parliament. In the past they were entitled to a Parliament pension when they served for two legislative periods.
The money is to be paid from the state budget.
The country’s creditors are not aware of the extra expenditure. The government had obviously hoped it would never had to pay the money.