Thousands to return fire aid

More than 11,000 residents of Ileia, in the Peloponnese, have been sent notification letters by the Economy and Finance Ministry that inform them that they have to return the 3,000 euros in cash they each received in aid payments in the wake of last year’s devastating forest fires. It emerged yesterday that the ministry is asking some 11,500 people to return money because it believes that they have not produced the paperwork necessary to prove that the state handout was warranted. The move represents something of a public relations disaster for the government, which quickly set up a system free of red tape to distribute financial aid to people in the fire-stricken areas. Opposition parties accused the government at the time of using the scheme to «buy» the votes of locals in the weeks before the September 16 general election. The ministry’s letters have caused anger among many residents, who now must return the money they claimed more than a year ago.

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