NEWS

Pension plans supported

In a sign of support of government plans to overhaul the country’s social security system, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said yesterday radical changes are needed to maintain funding of the pension system as of 2015. «There is no room for further delays, solutions are needed here and now,» said Nikos Garganas, governor of the Bank of Greece, the country’s central bank. The central bank’s view lends support to conservative government plans to reform the system. Proposals that have been staunchly opposed by political opposition parties and union groups. A report by Nikos Analytis, the head of a government-appointed committee called upon to examine the country’s social security system, released last week, was attacked for being «excessive» and harming worker rights. Proposals included increasing the age at which workers qualify for a pension, cutting down on early retirement and catching employers who dodge contribution payments. The Bank of Greece welcomed Analytis’s report but said even more is needed if the government wants to solve the problem. «Based on the experience of other countries, it is doubtful whether they (the measures) are sufficient,» the bank said in its semi-annual interim report on Greece’s monetary policy. Socialist PASOK has agreed to take part in talks on pension reforms but the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) have both refused to do so. PASOK spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis said the positions supported by the Bank of Greece are known and accused the government of hiding its true intentions. «What continues to remain unknown are the Karamanlis government’s positions,» said Ragoussis. In regards to the Finance Ministry’s ambitious target of achieving a budget deficit of 1.7 percent of economic output next year, Garganas said more measures are needed to make this target feasible. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, however, ruled out yesterday resorting to further tax hikes to boost 2008 budget revenues.