Vroutsis on digital pensions, payment of 600-euro benefit to freelance professionals

A ministerial decision outlining the procedure for the payment of a 600-euro benefit to freelance professionals will be issued next week, Labour and Social Affairs Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said in a SKAI television interview on Saturday. He deflected opposition criticism of the later scrapped distance-learning voucher programme that this money would have originally funded, calling it unfair.

He explained that the voucher programme was scrapped because the courses offered were not up to standard and stressed that the procedure had been fully transparent, denying that any of person within his office was in any way linked to the vocational training centres that stood to benefit. He also made clear that freelance professional will receive the 600-euro support.

On the 800-euro special-purpose benefit for workers suspended from their jobs, Vroutsis said that 686,000 have already been paid and a second wave of 105,875 people will be paid next Tuesday, for a total of 84 million euros.

The minister went on to talk about progress toward digital pensions, announcing that a ministerial decision has been signed that will see 40 pct of new pensions issued digitally through the labour ministry’s “Atlas” programme and e-EFKA. Initially this will concern primary production pensions (farmers, fishermen) and bereavement pensions, and he noted that pensions in these categories that have been pending since 2017 can then be issued automatically through a digital application to the Atlas system, arriving at the applicants home via e-mail within seconds.

He estimated that 55 pct of pensions will be issued digitally by the end of 2020 and this will rise to 80-85 pct by the end of 2021.