Report urges big changes in pension system

Greece’s social security system needs drastic changes in order to ensure its future viability without harming the economy or dragging the country into a recession, according to a preliminary report prepared by a team of experts. Nikos Analytis, the head of a government-appointed committee called to examine the country’s social security system, said Greece faces one of the biggest fiscal deficit problems in the world, mainly due to the financial weight of its pension system. «If (changes) are not bravely and wisely met, the margin for development and competitiveness in the economy will shrink to a minimum,» the report said. «Social partners, the government and political parties will need to take a position on specific proposals,» it added. A copy of the preliminary report – obtained by Kathimerini – was sent earlier this week to Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Employment and Social Security Minister Vassilis Magginas. Its final version will be ready in June next year. The conservative government has called for an assessment of the pension system after promising during its election campaign to address the badly needed reforms. Greece’s aging population and a large number of businesses dodging contribution payments have resulted in the pension system amounting to a «time bomb» for the economy, according to economists. The current system is complex, results in poor transparency and as a result is unfair, said Analytis in the report. «It is a Greek characteristic that workers who have paid the same social contributions, have the same years of experience and the same salaries, receive different pensions,» the report added. Sources said the paper was only signed by Analytis because other committee members disagreed with some of his proposals. Analytis prepared a list of 14 methods that can help make the system more feasible. Recommendations include increasing job positions for women, legalizing immigrants, cutting down on early pensions and catching employers that dodge contribution payments. Analytis’s call for talks to be held among all political parties is unlikely to happen after the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) both refused earlier this week to take part in discussions on possible changes. Some opposition parties have accused the government of exaggerating financial problems in the sector in order to introduce reforms that will harm the rights of workers.