NEWS

Budget safe from planned reforms

The head of Greece’s largest social security fund, IKA, clarified yesterday that the government will not make any contributions from the state budget to pay for its proposed pension reforms in the banking sector. Ioannis Vartholomaios, IKA director, said that a nine-billion-euro amount will weigh on IKA over the next 30 years due to a previous change in the law and not because of the current proposal. «Under no circumstances does the current amendment to be voted on create any additional burden,» he stressed. The government is in the process of pushing through changes to the banking sector’s pension system amid cries of protest by union groups. The Finance Ministry has said that it will create an auxiliary pension fund and register all bank employees with IKA. GSEE, the country’s largest umbrella union, has reacted by calling a 24-hour strike today which is expected to bring the country to a standstill. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos echoed Vartholomaios’s comments yesterday saying that the state «will not pay one euro» for these reforms. Last week, the Finance Ministry backtracked on plans to partially fund the proposed changes from the state budget after signs that the European Commission would not approve such assistance. The IKA chief also allayed fears about the financial status of the fund saying that it has improved over the last 15 months and is sustainable.