ECONOMY

Progress reported on pensions

progress-reported-on-pensions

Day by day the government and the country’s creditors appear to be edging closer to an agreement that would see the release of the long overdue bailout installment from the eurozone to Athens, with Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos expecting a deal on the social security issue by Saturday and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos eyeing an agreement on the tax reform by Friday night.

As Katrougalos left Thursday’s meeting with the chiefs of the creditors’ mission to Greece, he stated that it was the first time he had not witnessed any major opposition to the government’s proposals and appeared optimistic about a swift deal by Saturday. The minister also spoke of “necessary concessions” for a compromise to be reached.

Sources spoke of progress at Thursday’s meeting on the structure of the pension system, both in terms of the pension calculation method and the increase in social security contributions, which will likely be by 1 percentage point.

The same sources noted that it was the first time the creditors had not ruled out the possibility of a small increase in contributions, although they also called on the Greek side to make concessions, probably referring to pension cuts.

The national pension will likely come to 300 euros per month after 15 years of contributions and 384 euros/month for 20 years’ worth.

Skai Radio reported on Thursday that the cuts will likely affect supplementary pensions, and that there will be no cuts for pensioners whose main and supplementary pensions do not exceed 1,300 or 1,400 euros.

“We are working hard in Athens,” European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici stated on Thursday. “We believe that a solution can and should be found,” he added.

In Washington the International Monetary Fund on Thursday reiterated the two conditions it has set for its participation in the Greek bailout program, these being the implementation of reforms and the lightening of the public debt, and is continuing to work toward them.