Talks on bank pension deal

Bankers and government officials, during a meeting yesterday, expressed guarded optimism on a possible breakthrough that could restore stability to one of the wobblier areas of Greece’s unstable social security system. This followed proposals floated by Piraeus Bank Chairman Michalis Sallas, according to which banks would club together to pay 2 billion euros toward setting up a single auxiliary social security and pension fund for bank employees. In return, the government would provide a further 2 billion, over a long period of time. As of January 1, the international accounting standards (IAS) will come into effect, which could spell collapse for banks whose pension funds would no longer appear to be financially viable. This creates the need for speedy reforms of the system. Following yesterday’s talks with Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, Hellenic Banks Association (HBA) Chairman Yiannis Costopoulos described the plan as «a basis for discussion.» Ministry sources indicated that the proposal was being examined in a positive light, although there were no official comments on the meeting. The bank employees’ union (OTOE) held a special press conference yesterday, in which they urged bankers to table a formal proposal as soon as possible.