NEWS

Social security is changing

The Labor Ministry has already identified 12 key tasks which it needs to undertake as part of an ambitious reform of Greece’s complex social security system, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Among the ministry’s main goals will be to push for a merging of a number of disparate social insurance funds into the country’s largest fund, IKA. Sources said that ministry officials hope to bring seven funds, including the one for workers on the Athens-Piraeus electric railway and at OTE Telecoms, into IKA by the end of next year. One of the main problems with Greece’s social security system is the large number of funds that exist, often making the system inefficient and riddled with bureaucracy. Inducting these funds into IKA as soon as possible will give the government a more precise idea of how it can balance its books, since it will know exactly what assets the funds in question own while also being able to calculate what it will have to pay out to claimants in the future. The ministry will seek to tie up some loose ends this fall by passing a draft law which will help trim the social security system, without tackling any controversial reforms, which will have to wait until after the next general elections. Another of the obstacles faced by the government is that it does not have a precise idea of how many people in Greece are insured and how many are claiming pensions. So, the ministry wants to give people national insurance numbers and to create a central database for the social security system as no centralized records exist so far. Among the other tasks that the ministry will seek to take on in the coming months are the stamping out of contribution evasion, carrying out feasibility studies for the insurance funds and launching tenders to find banks that will be able to handle the banking services of the funds. Last week, a panel of 11 experts was appointed to come up with ways of reforming social security, particularly with respect to pensions as there are fears that with an aging population Greece is set to encounter serious financial problems.