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Thousands of Greeks receive several pensions

12 August 2013 / 13:08:02  GRReporter
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Inspectors of the Ministry of Employment have revealed that tens of thousands of Greeks are receiving 10 pensions per month even today. At a time when the pension funds are at the end of their resources, making every effort to survive, the members of a kind of "elite" are receiving pensions from several funds.

Following the scandalous revelations competent minister Yiannis Vroutsis has ordered a detailed investigation of each case. It is expected that the full report will be completed by 15 September.

"We have found very surprising new data about which we knew nothing until recently. The control system "Helios" ("Sun" – author’s note) which was introduced a year ago has revealed for the first time cases of pensioners who are receiving 7, 8, 9 and even 10 pensions. I am not saying that all of them are illegal but I have ordered the pension funds to verify if this is so or not," the Minister said.

According to the data obtained after the introduction of the electronic control system:

- 51,192 pensioners are receiving 4 pensions

- 11,810 pensioners are receiving 5 pensions

- 1,977 pensioners are receiving 6 pensions

- 220 pensioners are receiving 7 pensions

- 27  pensioners are receiving 8 pensions

- 3  pensioners are receiving 9 pensions

- 2  pensioners are receiving 10 pensions
 
According to experts from the Ministry of Labour, the pensions are probably perfectly legal in the majority of cases since the retirees had paid the required contributions. At the same time they do not exclude the possibility of the amounts being improperly received in some cases.

They explain that the payment of social security contributions in several pension funds was possible because the existing ceiling of 3,400 euro on the insurance income had never been applied. Moreover, until recently, the Greek social security system has been technically unable to account for the total number of pensions received by each pensioner and hence for the total amount of his or her income.

It is expected that the inspectors will check the disability pensions too. According to the data of the "Helios" system, their number is 233,253 at present which is equivalent to 8.61% of total pensions.

Although their number does not exceed the average rate for the European Union, inspections will be launched in pension funds in which their rates are high, namely:

- the fund of employees in the baker’s industry – 20%

- the fund of farmers – 18%

- the fund of freelancers – 17%

- the fund of media workers – 14%

At the same time, the unannounced inspections in various restaurants in tourist resorts and islands by the anti-financial crime service are continuing. Over the past few days, they have punished with a 48-hour closure four establishments because they had not issued receipts. The political leadership of the Greek Ministry of Finance has urged the taxpayers to request receipts in order for the heavy tax rates to be reduced.
 
The service states that it will hold more than 25,000 inspections before the end of the year in order to raise the revenue in the treasury and to avoid the imposition of new budget cuts. The inspectors will focus on inspections of bank accounts in the coming months in order for them to find unreported income which can then be taxed. The Ministry of Finance states that the holders of such amounts will not be able to circumvent the checks even if they withdraw their money, as it will investigate all transactions made over the past years.

The internal control department has undertaken to inspect the property declarations of 436 high-ranking officials in the tax collecting system. So far, it has investigated 150 people, finding for 10 of them higher deposits, frequent capital operations and expensive properties that do not match their salaries.

According to the financial officers, the number of officials who have resigned since the start of the inspections in March has increased as well as the number of those who have applied for retirement or have submitted an addendum of "forgotten" large mounts to their tax returns.

Sources from the Ministry of Finance state that even if the employees leave the public sector, none of them will be able to hide income of dubious origin.

Tags: SocietyPensionsPension fundsConcealment of incomeInspections
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