Bill overhauling insurance agency EFKA is posted for 15-day public consultation

A draft bill overhauling the national social insurance agency (EFKA) to a more efficient and updated agency was posted on Friday for a 15-day public consultation, the Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs said.

The bill, which includes hiring of permanent and temporary staff including managers from both public and private sectors, and productivity bonuses, was pre-announced on November 30 by Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, who had said it would be tabled in Parliament for a vote within the month of January.

In November, the minister had said that EFKA is one of the largest public organizations in Greece affecting 6.5 million citizens, of whom 2.5 million are pensioners and 4 million are salary workers or self-employed.

“It is, at the same time, the most problematic agency of Greek public administration, and leads – by a wide margin – in citizen complaints to the Greek Ombudsman (with a 48% share among complaints of the wider public sector), while delays in handling pensions is the top complaint,” the minister had said at the time. Existing delays and bureaucratic problems were worsened by the hasty integration of former health and pension funds in 2016, lack of specialized personnel, and outdated computers, he had noted.

On Friday, when the bill was posted, Hatzidakis said the new bill would “follow European standards, be more effective, more productive, and mainly more user-friendly, not resembling in anything” the old EFKA. One of the key provisions of the bill, he underlined, will help attract high-grade staff from the private and public sectors and introduce more efficient procedures related to anything from bureaucratic processing to provisions of office supplies. “The insured person is not a servant to administration – administration should serve the insured person,” he said.