The total number of unprocessed pensions may reach as much as 400.000 cases, Labor & Social Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said on Friday, following an unscheduled visit to the central offices of the unified social insurance fund EFKA at Kaningos Square.
Accompanied by Deputy Notis Mitarakis and after speaking with staff and pensioners, Vroutsis said, "Unfortunately, the situation with outstanding pensions is very different from the one we believed in. According to EFKA services documents, outstanding pensions up to January 1, 2019 from the public sector total 160,000. If you add to this those of the private sector, the total comes to nearly 400,000 outstanding pensions or pension cases". The exact number, he said, is expected to be higher.
He also commented on the extraordinarily long time to process pensions, which could amount to three years. (While waiting for their applications and cases to clear, retirees get a monthly stipend against their actual pension, in order to meet living expenses; the issue has plagued several administrations in Greece.)
Vroutsis said that in 2014 the ministry had set up the online system "Atlas", which accelerated the process of pension approvals, but the administration that followed did not utilize the system.
The minister lauded EFKA personnel and what he called their heroic efforts to manage thousands of pension applications and serve the public, and promised more staff.
Main opposition Syriza called Vroutsis' claims about 400,000 unresolved pension cases "entirely untrue" and charged him and the government with "producing fake news at a mind-boggling speed, and trying from their very first moment to undermine the public social insurance system."
According to data by EFKA and the supplementary pension fund ETEAEP, up to June 21, 2019 the data, Syriza said was as follows: "a total of 106,984, cases or 48,839 main pensions (reduced by 71 pct since January 1, 2015), 42,357 supplementary pensions (down by 72.4 for the same time) and 15,984 one-off bonus (reduced by 74.7 pct)".
The party also accused the New Democracy government of "trying to devalue public social insurance so they can justify its handover to private business interests".