Funds see big rise in value of assets

Assets managed by Greece’s social security funds have increased in value by 42 percent in three years, the government said yesterday in an attempt to ease concerns that fund mismanagement may have a negative impact on pensions. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said pension funds were holding assets worth 21.8 billion euros in 2003 and that this figure had risen to 31 billion euros in 2006. «I remind you that between 1999 and 2002 funds lost around 14 percent of their value,« said Roussopoulos, refering to a period when PASOK was in power. The conservative government has been busy trying to handle the communications side of an issue in which questions have been raised about the credibility of those managing the country’s pensions. Last month, a Labor Ministry probe found that a public servants’ pension fund had overpaid some 5 million euros for a government bond. The government has promised further probes to uncover any other cases of excessive spending but has also stuck by Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis. Top officials are split over whether blame should be laid on specific persons to ease the pressure on the government as a whole. «There is collective political responsibility on the part of the government. There should be no attempt to apportion blame at a personal level until there are serious and reliable findings,» said Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

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