SOCIAL SECURITY

The EFKAesque bureaucracy

Workers, pensioners and staff at the Single Social Security Entity run into problems every day

the-efkaesque-bureaucracy

The Single Social Security Entity (EFKA) is considered by far the most bureaucratic agency in the Greek state, as Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis himself has admitted. Workers, pensioners and even its own employees continue to suffer from red tape and inflexibility.

There are some 6.5 million people insured with EFKA and the vast majority will have run into delays, problems and confusion in dealing with an entity that has only been around for five years yet is notorious for its poor operation.

It may sound like a bad joke, but even procuring toilet paper for EFKA’s headquarters is a process that requires an average of six months, not including the time needed for any objections to tenders. The entity’s General Department for Information Technology needs an average of seven months to procure expendable items.

A lot has been said about the delays in the issuance of pensions, which deprive hundreds of thousands of retirees of their monthly benefit. A delay in the completion of the project titled “Maintenance of the Integrated Systems for Human Resource Management and Payment” resulted in the extension of its time span to 14 months and very nearly caused a blackout in the payment of EFKA staff salaries last June. Eventually everyone got paid, though just in the nick of time.

At a time when everyone speaks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it has taken EFKA 15 months to complete the procurement of 1,150 computers and 345 printers. In the meantime, workers had to print official documents at home.

Every day the ministry receives dozens of complaints from people insured at EFKA, pointing out the entity’s failings, with the inflexibility of employees also playing a part.

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In one instance that sounds like another bad joke, a Greek taxpayer who had to confirm his time of insured labor abroad, was asked to submit a formal statement that he is alive. He filled in the appropriate form writing “I am alive,” and the EFKA employee who had asked for it wrote underneath: “Signed in my presence.”