Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Tuesday denied claims by Deputy Labor Minister Tasos Petropoulos that the government was planning to pay a one-off benefit to civil servants and public sector pensioners in the form of an Easter bonus.
Speaking to radio station News247, Petropoulos had suggested that a handout was in the cards, noting that any such decision would be announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The announcement reportedly caused consternation in the office of the premier, who has himself pledged a series of handouts in the countdown to elections.
However, it was Tsakalotos who rebuffed it.
“It’s the first time I’ve heard this. Ask Mr Petropoulos,” Tsakalotos retorted when asked about the deputy minister’s remarks.
Commenting on the same issue, sources close to Tsipras also said there is no such plan.
Media reports have speculated that the ministry has earmarked 658 million euros for distribution to public sector workers and pensioners. However, ministry officials have been reluctant to discuss it while negotiations with Greece’s creditors continue on matters including a new framework for the protection of the primary homes of overindebted borrowers.
Authorities are focused on wooing voters ahead of elections – European and local authority polls are planned for May. They are particularly keen on appeasing retired public servants who are pressing to be compensated for cuts to their monthly payments in line with a decision by the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, deeming those cuts to violate the Constitution.