NEWS

Pension trim proposed

The conservative government said yesterday it would cut down on those claiming benefits for hazardous and unhealthy work conditions as it unveiled its first concrete proposals on how to reform the pension system. Employment and Social Security Minister Vassilis Magginas told a parliamentary economic committee that it was imperative to re-evaluate the list, which shows that about 32 percent of Greeks work in hazardous conditions, enabling them to retire early. «This list has been the product of anarchic organization and frequently custom-made legislation… improperly used to grant benefits without real criteria,» the minister said. He added that the current framework is an «international embarrassment.» Magginas said the government would offer incentives to employees to stay at work longer, as well as review pensions for some manual laborers. Greece’s fragmented pension system is expected to go bust in 15 years if no measures are taken, due to an aging population and the long-term mismanagement of funds. Experts say actuarial deficits could reach 400 billion euros, double the country’s annual economic output. The ministry also wants to re-examine the status of disability pensions, having noted that some Greek regions have a suspiciously high number of allegedly disabled pensioners, the minister said. «Every fake disability pension takes away funds from those who really need it,» Magginas said. Other plans include offering mothers the chance to obtain pension benefits earlier, depending on the number of children they have. Socialists PASOK have agreed to take part in the parliamentary talks, after initially walking out of discussions, while left-wing opposition parties have flatly refused to take any part in the reform process. The government, which won a second term in office in September vowing not to cut pensions or increase age limits, has invited social partners for talks. Union groups, which have called a nationwide general strike for December 12, have also refused to take part in the discussions. Unions say the state owes pension funds about 10 billion euros as an employer and in legal subsidies.