ECONOMY

IKA to tighten the rules for disability pensions

The Social Security Foundation (IKA) is planning to overhaul procedures for the granting of disability pensions, which have risen steeply in recent years and now represent about 16 percent of the country’s total (330,400 out of 2,061,100 pensioners are listed as disabled). IKA alone, the largest social insurance fund, grants 143,650 disability pensions from a total of 840,000 (17.15 percent). IKA reformers are also said to be eager to establish why disability rates vary considerably among cities. Athens has a rate of 10.66 percent, Kalamata 7.32 percent, Lamia 15.55 and Larissa 19.33 percent. Iraklion has the highest rate of disability pensions in the country, at 19.42 percent. IKA officials are primarily concerned that such high rates cannot obviously be attributed to particularly hazardous work conditions, but must be the result of applicants’ influence, through various means, on the members of the health committees which grant the pensions. IKA’s first measure, to take effect on November 1, is to merge various committees and have the names of examining doctors drawn by lottery so that their names are not known in advance. It is also hoped that such a measure will reduce delays due to applicants failing to appear before the committees, hoping for a more favorable composition of members. Doctors’ remuneration is also to be increased. In a related development, a special pensions draft bill tabled unexpectedly by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Friday provides for a 50-percent reduction in one of the two pensions received by surviving spouses of retired civil servants. But by another provision, the latter are to receive redress benefits of between 8,000 and 14,000 drachmas monthly, retroactive as of January. We will reduce all direct taxes, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Vasilev announced yesterday. The government plans to slash corporate tax to 15 percent from 20 percent and cut income tax by between 2 and 9 percent.