Reform? In six years

The thorny issue of implementing substantial reforms to the social security system will be left to the governments of the future, as the proposals made yesterday by the Labor Ministry with regard to the biggest fund in the land, and which were agreed to by the representatives of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), did not provide a solution to the major problem of the multi-layered system, which works against pensioners on the lowest income scale. The introduction of a single social security fund for all wage earners, which is intended to replace a myriad of unequal funds, has now been put off until 2008. Instead of tackling the problem faced by the social security system, which the PASOK government has been belaboring since 1996, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas presented a set of measures which appeared to be aimed at restoring the link between PASOK and its grassroots supporters who reacted angrily a year ago to reform proposals criticized as demanding more work for fewer benefits. He proposed that people insured with the Social Security Foundation (IKA) retire after 37 years of work, without placing an age limit on this threshold. This would improve on IKA’s lower pensions and boost in the amount of State assistance toward the fees paid by those who joined the social security system after 1992. Reppas will today present proposals for the social security funds covering civil servants, public sector employees and bank personnel. «We took another positive step, a step of substance and responsibility,» Reppas said yesterday after his meeting with GSEE. «I believe that we have a responsibility, in response to the expectations of citizens and the needs of coming generations, to complete this joint effort within the context of a national social agreement.» Christos Polyzogopoulos, GSEE’s president, added: «We had a long, substantial and fruitful discussion… I believe we are on a creative course with regard to social security reform.» But he expressed reservations with regard to the discussion to take place today, saying that workers’ expectations must be met, especially concerning their demand that the State contribute more toward employees’ fees (in addition to fees paid by the employees and their employers).

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