By S. Papapetros
New Labor and Social Affairs Minister Yannis Vroutsis generated a significant portion of the recent summer weekend's headlines by charging that the previous SYRIZA government was set to approve of monthly pension rates of between 8,000 to an unprecedented 24,000 euros.
The allegation, and an accompanying order to the social security administration's (EFKA) services to immediately cease all procedures for issuing such monthly payments, was widely reported in the press, and also caused a sharp reaction by leftist SYRIZA, which is now in the main opposition.
In a statement to "N", Vroutsis, who held the same portfolio in a previous ND government before 2015, first referred to a "moral issue", while adding that the previous ministry leadership ignored "loopholes" in the so-called "Katrougalos law" that allowed such high retirement benefits, ones that are numerous times higher than median rates paid out.
According to legal experts, the specific law, 4387/2016, does not set a maximum ceiling for pensions issued with applications submitted after Jan. 1, 2019.
In a swift reaction, SYRIZA said the specific law "implemented, for the first time, unified rules for all, both in terms of contributions and regarding pension rates ..."
SYRIZA's explanation over the extremely high rates - for a handful of lucky pensioners - is that a veritable "mosaic" of previous laws and regulations were retained in order to ensure reciprocity, as some beneficiaries of now defunct IKA fund had paid much higher contributions during decades of active employment.