Business

Greece paid pensions to the dead

  • 26 August 2010
  • From the section Business

Greece has discovered that it has been paying pensions to people who have passed away - in one case, more than a decade ago.

As part of efforts to cut spending and tackle waste, Greece discovered that 321 of the people over 100 years old to whom it pays pensions had died.

The country's Deputy Labour Minister, George Koutroumanis, described the discovery as "incredible".

He said they were now reviewing the circumstances of people under 100.

Mr Koutroumanis described the situation as a "Third World phenomenon" that could not be allowed to continue "in a country that wants to be called a European country".

Reform pressure

With help from the police, the government discovered money that had been paid into the bank accounts of the deceased.

Although the number is small, it is a significant proportion of the number of people over 100 in Greece. It is also an issue that senior ministers are taking very seriously, as they say it indicates the inefficiency of the country's benefits system.

A national register of pensioners is to be set up along with a more centralised payments system, the deputy labour minister said.

Greece is going through a period of economic upheaval, as it cuts spending and tries to increase tax revenue in order to trim its large budget deficit.

Earlier this year, crisis-hit Greece agreed massive budget cuts in return for a 110bn-euro ($146.2bn; £95bn) loan package from the eurozone and the IMF.

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