Cash problems caused by ‘elite’ pensioners

The «privileged» pensioners of OTE telecom – where the government is still the main shareholder – and of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) are creating a headache for ministers. The pension funds of two of the country’s largest corporations will require a combined 770 million euros in state contributions this year, considerably higher than in 2005, after OTE’s voluntary retirement program. The total for all funds is estimated at 6.2 billion, of which 800 million will go to the seamen’s fund (NAT). The inflation of pension budgets – when a number of them are already running high deficits – poses serious difficulties to evening out large disparities among pensions in the broader public sector. For instance, a senior public servant with a college degree and 35 years of service will receive a monthly pension of 1,235 euros while a corresponding OTE pensioner will receive 2,226 euros and one from PPC 2,906 euros. A Parliament employee with 29 years of service will receive 1,804 euros monthly after retiring and a policeman with a high school leaving certificate and 27 years in service will get 1,625 euros – that is, 390 euros more than the senior public servant. The above sums do not include the supplements of auxiliary funds, which tend to be the lowest for retired public servants, or no more than 20 percent. The government contributions to pension funds rose 23 percent in 2003, 19 percent in 2004, 10 percent last year and are expected to go up 9 percent this year.