A bill tabled by Deputy Labour Minister Tasos Petropoulos that ensures special treatment for retirees who worked for the country’s central bank, the Bank of Greece, has caused an uproar, as one of the beneficiaries of the law is a SYRIZA MP.

According to a 2016 law related to Greece’s bailout memorandum commitments, and passed by then labour minister Yorgos Katrougalos, retirees who receive a pension from their former insurance funds or from the state, and who decide to work either as employees elsewhere or to become self-employed, are subject to either a steep cut in or a full suspension of their pensions.

The bill tabled by Petropoulos, however, exempts Bank of Greece pensioners to the cuts that apply to all others.
“Exempted from the cut or suspension of pension payment (for retirees who work), are Bank of Greece pensioners, regardless of the time that they commenced their new job after receiving their pension. They remain subject to the provisions that were in place prior to the time that Article 20 of Law 238./2016 (which slashed the pensions of retirees who work) came into effect.”

That discriminatory measure was widely viewed as particularly provocative, at a time when the state still owes millions of euros to hundreds of thousands of pensioners who were subjected to illegal withholdings, despite the fact that a court has ordered the state to return the money.

Syriza MP Balaouras benefits, again

One of the lucky Bank of Greece pensioners who will benefit from the targeted exemption from the pension cuts that apply to all other retirees who work is Syriza MP Makis Balaouras, whose monthly salary as a parliamentarian is approximately 5,000 euros.

It is the second time that Balaouras has preoccupied public opinion due to curious perks. At the end of 2016, while serving as an MP, he received a 300 euro stipend that targeted only low-income pensioners. The union of Bank of Greece employees reported the improper benefit, as the MP’s income certainly did qualify him for a benefit earmarked for poor pensioners.

He claimed that the computer system automatically placed him on the list of beneficiaries, as his pension was cut when he was elected as an MP, and that he had not applied for the benefit.

Vasilis Kanellis