ECONOMY

Gov’t announces plan for the poor

People and households living in extreme poverty in one of 13 municipalities chosen for a pilot scheme aimed at boosting poorer members of society will be able to submit their electronic applications from November 15 for the so-called minimum guaranteed income, according to a program presented by the Labor Ministry on Tuesday.

“Today we are introducing in Greece a social policy tool for the protection of the weak, the combating of poverty and the reintegration of those under threat of marginalization,” said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the event, held in Zappeio Hall in central Athens.

The prime minister went on to stress that the primary surplus from the country’s budget is allowing the country to cover basic social needs without borrowing to do so.

Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis dubbed the plan the “country’s biggest social reform.” He said the crisis has revealed in the most glaring manner the distortions, gaps and problems of the social protection system in Greece, adding that the new program will serve to bridge these gaps.

The pilot scheme will cost 30 million euros and apply to 13 municipalities around the country: Drama, Edessa, Grevena, Ioannina, Karditsa, Lefkada, Mesolongi, Halkida, Kallithea in Attica, Tripoli, Samos, Syros and Malevizi on Crete.

According to the plan it will complement existing policies for combating poverty and social exclusion. It will initially concern some 30,000 beneficiaries and when fully developed will cover around 7 percent of the population to become the backbone of new policy in the context of a broader restructuring.

The plan also concerns foreigners who have lived in any of the above municipalities for the past five years. All applicants must have an income that is below the poverty threshold (which takes the number of dependants and the age of beneficiaries into account). In the case of property ownership, its value should not exceed 200,000 euros per household.

A special website will be created for the scheme and applications will be crosschecked with the Finance Ministry database before any payments are made.