Retirement income support, the elimination of the backlog of outstanding pensions, the improvement of the service of the insured and the reforms in the supplementary pensions and in the second pillar of the insurance system (Occupational Funds) are the five main pillars of the government policy in in the field of social security described by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Kostis Hatzidakis speaking at the annual Labor and Insurance Conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, as mentioned in a relevant announcement.
As Mr. Hatzidakis pointed out, “with the provisions of the “Vroutsis law” we eliminated injustices of the “Katrougalos law” and as a result more than 225,000 retirees have already seen increases in their pockets – especially those who had 30 years of insurance. It is a clear support for the income of pensioners that is part of a network of initiatives that includes -among other things- the return of retroactive amount of 1.2 billion euros, the increase of the income of many retirees through the reduction of the tax rate from 22% to 9% “, the increases in the supplementary pensions of several retirees, the increases in the pensions of working retirees – after the percentage of the pension paid increased from 40% to 70% – and the extraordinary allowances paid to low-paid retirees.” The Minister of Labor then referred to the new support measures that will follow, ie the abolition of the solidarity contribution for all Greeks – and therefore the pensioners – announced by the Prime Minister, but also to the “thawing”, ie the increase of pensions from in 2023, based on the provisions of existing legislation.
Turning to the issue of outstanding pensions, Mr. Hatzidakis analyzed all the initiatives that have been taken (advance payment of national pension to almost 50,000 beneficiaries, simplification of the process of awarding pensions, “Control Tower” in EFKA insurance fund, participation of certified lawyers and accountants who expedite pensions in 90 days, free and without inconvenience for the citizen), thanks to which in 2021 an all-time record was achieved in the decisions for main pensions that increased by 83% compared to 2019. “We are finally closed with the pending issue in main pensions “For 2016, 2017, 2018 and in less than a month, almost all cases of 2019 and 2020 are over”, he stressed, adding that “we are making the final” attack “on the stock of overdue main pensions with the introduction of the institutions of “Trust pensions” and “fast track pensions”, with the aim of closing with the overdue main pensions in the summer! ”
On the “front” of the service of the insured, the Ministry of Labor has “thrown into battle” the introduction of dozens of new electronic services in EFKA social security fund (with the result that every month more than 1.2 million electronic transactions are implemented and corresponding visits to branches are avoided), and the perpetuation of electronic appointments. The culmination of the effort is the single citizen service number 1555 that put an end to the chaos with downloaded phones and has already served about 2 million calls since August.
Individual “piggy banks”
The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs also analyzed the reforms in social security, starting from the introduction of “individual piggy banks” in the supplementary pensions of new entrants to the labor market, as well as those young people up to 35 years old who choose it. As he said, “in the new Auxiliary Insurance Fund, TEKA, about 15,000 new insured persons joined in the first quarter of the year and by the end of the year, about 50 to 60 thousand will have joined. From the end of the summer, the newly insured will be able to see how the situation is evolving with their savings, what is happening with their individual piggy bank.
Second pillar of insurance
Speaking of structural reforms, one of the issues that will concern us in the near future is the second pillar of insurance that plays a critical role in supporting the income of retirees and in financing investments for the benefit of the Greek economy. And despite the fact that in the development of the second pillar Greece is now at the tail-end in Europe, in recent years there is a lot of mobility around the Occupational Insurance Funds. That is why we are already working on a plan for the consolidation and strengthening of supervisory bodies and the possibility of establishing multi-employer Occupational Insurance Funds, in order to promote the development of the institution of Occupational Insurance. “After dialogue with all stakeholders, we seek to be led to a system that will provide incentives for savings, with justice among the pillars that make up the insurance system.”
Closing his address, Mr. Hatzidakis said that “At the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs we promote policies that lead us to an economically viable and socially just social security system. We are moving forward with steady steps and based on the best European practices, aiming on the one hand to manage the challenges of today, and on the other hand to take care of both those currently insured and retirees, as well as the future ones.”
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