G. Katroufgalos: The issue of Greece’s pension system was settled during the first review of the programme

The issue of Greece’s pension system was settled during the first review of the Greek programme, Labour Minister George Katrougalos insisted on Tuesday, as he emerged from a meeting held at the finance ministry.
“What is happening now is to check the implementation of the law and the operation of the Single Social Insurance Agency,” Katrougalos told reporters, noting that the necessary decisions and circulars were still pending. This was a very difficult task, he added, but all decisions and circulars will be issued in time.

The labour minister further explained that there will be a “clean-up” of welfare benefits, stopping those that “overlapped” with the Social Solidarity Income, but without cuts to special categories of welfare payments, such as those to the disabled or family benefits.

Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis, replying to questions, ruled out an abolition of heating benefits and noted that the 105 million euros earmarked for this had already been added to the 2017 budget.

In addition to Katrougalos and Chouliarakis, the meeting included Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Alternate Labour Minister for Social Solidarity issues Theano Fotiou.

In a statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) and in response to a document that Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem sent to the Dutch Parliament regarding the second review of the Greek programme, Katrougalos said there had been an “extensive misinterpretation of these statements.”

“Others say that it will be a separate issue at the Eurogroup on November 7, others say that the pensions issue is opening again. None of that is the case. The pensions issue has finalised and will not reopen in the context of the second review,” he said, repeating that the focus of the institutions was on the implementation of the measures, through the necessary ministerial decisions and circulars.

“This must be what the Dutch finance minister was referring to and, in any case, no one has raised a repetition of a review of the social insurance system,” he added.

Finance ministry sources backed up the minister, saying that the pension system had not been among the issues for the second review and was not raised in meetings with the institutions held in Athens last week. The Social Solidarity benefit was among the issues included in the second review and this was presumably what Dijsselbloem was referring to, they added.