Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos sparked outrage on Friday after saying that the long-term viability of the social security system will not be burdened by a suspension of planned pension cuts as older pensioners will die soon.
Speaking at the 13th Annual Greek Roadshow organized by the Athens Stock Exchange in London, Tsakalotos said that “by 2020, 2030 or 2040 [older pensioners] won’t be here and therefore there will be no impact on the long-term viability of the system.”
His remarks were seized upon by the conservative opposition New Democracy party, which said that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed a similar sentiment during the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) earlier this month.
Tsipras’s comments, ND said, were not “a mistake.”
“The wish made by Mr Tsipras at TIF for 1.5 million of our fellow citizens over 70 to quickly die has been repeated as a solution by the finance minister,” New Democracy said in a statement.
It further lambasted the government for using the death of older pensioners as an argument to convince Greece’s creditors that a suspension of pension cuts in January won’t burden the social insurance system.
Movement For Change leader Fofi Genimata also expressed outrage, saying that Tsakalotos’s remark revealed “insensitivity and cynicism.” She echoed conservatives, saying this line of thinking began with Tsipras at TIF.
For his part, Tsakalotos denied having spoken about pensioner deaths and accused conservatives of taking the low road and “trying to change the agenda.”