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Social benefits are real mess, admitted Katseli

25 February 2011 / 20:02:59  GRReporter
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There is no complete description of all social benefits in Greece and the number of citizens who benefit from them is not clear. "It is not clear whether those on benefits really need them." This is what the Minister of Employment and Social Security Louka Katseli admitted. She explained to journalists that it could not be said what changes would occur in the social policy of the country before a detailed analysis of the allocations government subsidies is made.

The program of the Ministry for 2011 is set to reduce the costs by 1.8 billion euros. Katseli said the main cuts would come not from the pockets of the poor but from the full introduction of the single electronic system for free medicines prescriptions. It currently operates in one of the three biggest social security funds and according to official information "free" medicines prescription covered by health funds declined by almost 50%. The government expects to save about 1.4 billion euros with the new programme.

At the same time, the Ministry of Employment is trying to find effective ways to fight unemployment, which is expected to reach record levels this year. According to the analysis of the Greek trade unions, the number of unemployed in the country will reach one million people in 2011 and 220,000 companies will go bankrupt. Those dark forecasts prompted the government to get down to work and Luoka Katseli invited the 13 governors in Greece to a workshop. Government and municipal representatives agreed to sign a Memorandum of employment development by regions.

The Ministry of Employment wants to launch two programs to the beginning of April this year which have a total budget of 130 million euros. One of them is focused upon keeping the jobs in existing companies while the other aims to establish labour associations which will perform socially useful activities to municipalities. According to initial information, similar is the "Help at Home" programme through which municipalities and town halls will permanently recruit citizens to assist the poor and people in need. Labour offices already have operating programmes to keep the jobs. One of them is the subsidy programme of employers' social and healthcare contributions to the insurance funds, so as to reduce operating costs and not to make cuts in salaries or company staff.

Tags: EconomyMarketsUnemploymentLabour officesGreeceSocial benefits
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