IKA chief claims the foundation’s cash position is sound

Ioannis Vartholomaios, head of the Social Security Foundation (IKA), gave assurances yesterday regarding the fund’s ability to pay full retirement benefits not only for the current year but also subsequent ones. Vartholomaios gave a press conference yesterday on the orders of Employment and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, after a newspaper reported that IKA’s resources were insufficient to pay retirees’ December pensions and Christmas bonuses. The head of IKA said «funding is guaranteed,» and characterized any such possible future references to the foundation’s financial situation as «malicious and suspect.» Vartholomaios went on to announce that IKA’s reserves, including shares, bonds and cash, are valued at 5.9 billion euros, which would represent extremely good news for IKA if confirmed. It should be noted that, according to the last budget, the value of IKA’s assets, excluding real estate properties, amounted to 2.1 billion euros, less than half the figure Vartholomaios claimed. The effort to bolster IKA’s reserves had begun in 2002, when the previous Socialist government decided to include the cash reserves, in order to cover IKA’s next month’s obligation toward retirees. IKA officials told Kathimerini yesterday that «perhaps the foundation’s new management is reverting to the same practice, as the higher reserves referred to may not be explained in any other way, taking into consideration the foundation’s financial situation.» At the press conference, Vartholomaios also referred to the regular payments made to IKA through the general government budget, meeting 10.34 percent of its annual financial obligations to insurees, as well as to the additional 175 million euros of the special funds to be made available to low-income retirees. It should be noted, however, that such an amount has not been included in the draft budget plan. The head of IKA also sought to soften the bad impression made after the Panhellenic Federation of IKA Employees publicized figures referring to the increase in cases of dues not being paid to the foundation and of the value of due avoidance amounting to 1.5 billion euros.