ECONOMY

Delay in pension payment causes minor panic among recipients

The Finance Ministry is locked in a constant battle to make sure that it has the necessary liquidity for the unhindered payment of salaries and pensions, despite any technical or other problems.

The pensions of the state funds and the Social Security Foundation (IKA) were paid out at the very last minute this week, as according to sources the required cash was not scraped together until Tuesday evening. Eventually the money was credited to the recipients’ bank accounts later that evening, after thousands of retirees had been upset not to find their pensions in their accounts when they checked banks’ cash machines.

Alternate Social Security Minister Dimitris Stratoulis attributed the delay to a technical problem, saying the interbank system had been unable to immediately update the pensioners’ bank accounts.

Although pay day for state and IKA pensions was officially Wednesday, many recipients had rushed to ATMs the evening before as for many their pensions are usually deposited the day before. Their inability to access the cash for four to seven hours (depending on the bank) and with talk generated by government officials’ statements about the state’s inability to fulfill its obligations due to the lack of liquidity were enough to create some panic.

Without referring to any technical issues, the Hellenic Bank Association issued a statement late on Tuesday saying that the crediting of pensions to the recipients’ accounts would be completed by 11 p.m., while yesterday’s payment of May pensions was conducted without any hiccups. Stratoulis was also in contact with the president of National Bank and the HBA, Louka Katseli, who assured the minister that the problem had been resolved.

However, well-informed sources insisted that there had been major concern at the General Accounting Office and IKA up until Tuesday afternoon – that is until the moment the last euro needed for the payments was eventually secured, to be credited to banks. Notably, the system does not allow for any withdrawals unless all pensions have been deposited and the banks have conducted their inspections.