BUSINESS

Guaranteed minimum income scheme a 'tool of social policy,' says PM

Citizens who have no source of income can begin applying for a monthly stipend of between 200-400 euros as of November 15, the government said on Tuesday at the unveiling of the guaranteed minimum income scheme at Zappeio Hall in central Athens.

"Today we are inaugurating in Greece a tool of social policy for the protection of the protection of the weak by combating poverty and for the reintegration of those who are at risk of marginalization," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said at the event.

The scheme will see some 700,000 people in 13 municipalities receive a total of between 850,000 and 1 million euros next year. These municipalities are Drama, Edessa, Grevena, Ioannena, Karditsa, Lefkada, Messolonghi, Halkida, Kallithea in Athens, Tripoli, Samos and Malevisiou in Crete. The pilot scheme, which begins on November 15, is aimed at covering 7 percent of the population.

"This is a special moment because we are presenting the country's biggest social reform, which changes everything we knew about the welfare state," said Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis. "This is an innovative institution that will form the pillar of social solidarity for tomorrow."

The scheme applies to individuals or families who have no other source of income. People with small incomes will be able to apply but they will receive a smaller benefit.

Under the program, people living on their own will receive 200 euros per month. Couples will get 300 euros plus another 50 euros for each child under the age of 18. If they have children over 18, the amount will increase to 100 euros.

This scheme was made possible, Samaras said, "with the surpluses being produced by the country."

Figures published on Monday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) showed that 23.1 percent of Greece's population was at threat of poverty in 2013, the highest rate in the European Union, and 35.7 percent faced social exclusion.

"Greece became a laboratory for the European crisis. Now we are exiting the crisis and organizing Greece without the troika," said Deputy Prime Minister and PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos.

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