It has been one of the most discussed issues of social welfare policy of the past 20 years, but now that it is coming to be, it doesn’t look very promising.
After years of speculation, debate and mismanagement, Greece has finally launched the Single Social Security Entity (EFKA), a fund to cover all the country’s citizens’ health, pension and welfare needs.
The fund will incorporate all previous social security funds, such as IKA (the largest fund of the state), OAEE (the traders and business owners’ fund), NAT (for those working in the shipping industry) and so on. This seems to be a long, arduous process, given that the organisational chart of the new fund has not been completed.
Also pending is a presidential decree regarding the single regulation of benefits. Until these, as well as other matters, are resolved, all previous social security funds remain active, albeit operating under the EFKA logo.
Labor and Social Security Minister Effie Achtsioglou promised on Tuesday to make the transition as smooth as possible and to deal with all the relevant problems, such as the outstanding pensions, which were owed to pensioners by several funds, in certain cases for many years.
These will have been issued by the end of 2017; after that, all pensioners should be able to receive pensions within three months of lodging their retirement papers − that is, if the new fund manages to repair its financial problems.
At the moment, the fund that has absorbed all social security funds is looking at a deficit of more than €1 billion, given that it has not only been bequeathed 4.2 million worker-members and 2.6 million pensioners, but also the deficits, problems and obstacles of the past.