Dead Greeks keeps the living financially afloat

There seem to be no end to the amazing stories coming out of the bankrupts Greece. Now the story is that the largest pension fund, state-owned Social Security Foundation (IKA) has during the past decade paid 7-8 billion Euro in pensions to Greeks who are dead. Atleast that is the number that the company director, Rovertos Spyropoulos gave to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Most of the huge load of retirement billions has been withdrawn by relatives of the deceased, while a smaller part is that pension payments are still in a bank account, which for one reason or another are not made up in dealing with the deceased estate.

This trend underlines strongly the widespread fraud and sloppiness with public funds, which seems to pervade Greece on several levels. While pensions fund is a big issue it is a relative small issue compared to the inadequate tax-system, which is in place were there is a widespread lack of control and transparency.

This is not the first time that problems with pension payments to deceased citizens fills the headlines in the Greek media. In August, the state owned pension fund announced that it had halted payments to 1,473 people over 90 years, which on closer inspection turned out to be deceased.

“We will demand all the money paid back all the way down to the last euro,” says Rovertos Spyropoulos according to the Greek newspapers.

The socialist party PASOK Greek government has previously called for an investigation of pensions, when it emerged that in total there were registered about 9,000 beneficiaries Greeks over 100 years. If this figure were correct, it would mean that Greece have the absolutely largest share of residents over 100 years in the world. By a census in 2001 there were less than 1,700 Greeks over 100 years.

It would seem tat there is no end to the suffering that the Greek people have to endure. But on a positive side if one could call the pension fraud a positive thing in any context is that people and not least the government is starting to realize that it is time to clean up. Freeriding on other peoples work is no longer a possibility and the chance that perpetrators will get caught in the end is increasing as the level of investigations deepens.

Will this mean that Greece is off the hook when it comes to bankruptcy. This is only treating the symptoms of a much deeper and cultural set of inappropriate norms that the Greek society have adopted over the years.

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