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Grecia e tara din Europa care cheltuie cel mai mult cu pensiile ca procent din PIB. The Guardian: Unsustainable futures? The Greek pensions dilemma explained
Pensions are a significant sticking point in the standoff between Greece and the IMF, the European commission and the ECB.
Greece’s creditors demand that Athens should cut pensions further. But the Greek government says it has gone as far as it can go.
In recent years, Greece’s much-criticised pension system has seen a slight improvement. It is no longer rated as the weakest in the world. It is now ranked eighth lowest in the world.
The previous government cut pensions (although a court has recently ruled that measures carried out in 2012 were unconstitutional), became better at identifying bogus claims and collecting debt, and had passed legislation to reduce supplementary pensions by preventing the state from subsidising such payments.
There has been some progress on pensions under the leftwing government of Alexis Tsipras, however. The current administration has pledged to continue to integrate pension funds (in 2008, Greece had more than 100 separately administered funds), to phase out some early retirements and progressively reduce higher pensions. It has also promised to halt legal oddities, including those loopholes enabled by job categories entitled to retire early due to “hazardous working conditions”, meant for sectors such as bomb disposal, yet also covered radio and television presenters (at risk from the bacteria on their microphones), musicians playing wind instruments and hairdressers.
But it’s not enough. Make no mistake, Greece’s pension system is not sustainable and still needs major reform.
Grecia cheltuie cu pensiile 17.5% din PIB-ul sau. Romania doar 8.1% - procent care cuprinde pensii, somaj si ajutor-de-boala. Nici o alta tara din UE nu cheltuie ca procent din PIB mai mult decat cheltuie Grecia.. As a proportion of GDP, no country in the EU spends as much as Greece’s 17.5% on pensions, according to Eurostat:
Doar deficitul sistemului de pensii se ridica in Grecia la 9% din PIB. What’s more, in Greece the size of the deficit in the pension system is 9% of GDP, compared with 3% of GDP in Germany.
Funding shortfalls remain. Pension funds have lost at least €25bn since 2012. The system remains mired in bureaucracy and the pace of change is slow. The government’s tax-revenue shortfall in January alone was 23% below its €4.5bn target for the month.
There is also a backlog of more than 400,000 pension applications to deal with (many of which are requests for early retirement) that will add to the country’s existing tally of 2.65 million pensioners.
As part of a package of savings and tax increases, Greece’s creditors are demanding the government cut pensions by the equivalent of 1% of gross domestic output, a more rapid clampdown on early retirees and for supplementary pensions to be financed by contributions, not by the state (which would effectively mean cutting them further).
But can the refusal of Tsipras and the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, to comply with these demands simply be explained by a stubborn unwillingness to reform?
In order to answer this question, we should consider the following:
20.5% din populatia Greciei are peste 65 de ani. First, demographics. About 20.5% of Greeks are over 65 – behind only Italy and Germany in the EU when it comes to an ageing population.
Somajul in randul tinerilor este in Grecia de peste 50% And with the country’s youth unemployment rate still above 50%, its young people are not going to be able to pay for their grandparents pensions any time soon.
Second, Greek society has a dependency on pensioners. One in two households rely on pensions to make ends meet and the country has an old-age dependancy ratio above 30%, which means that for every 100 people of working age in Greece there are 30 people aged 65 or over.
Third, Greek pensions aren’t so generous. About 45% of pensioners receive pensions below what is considered the poverty limit of €665 per month.
Looking at the actual expenditure on beneficiaries, Greece’s figures don’t stand out as exceptional and are instead on par with the EU average:
What makes the country’s pension system unsustainable is not the specific size of each individual pension, but the overall cost of a grossly inefficient and badly funded system (yes, mainly due to of decades of endemic tax evasion that means as much tax revenue slips through Athens’ fingers as it collects).
Pensia medie in Grecia este de 700 EU (adica aprox. 31.5 milioane lei vechi), pensia suplimentara medie (daca nu ai lucrat perioada completa) este de 169 EU (aprox. 7.5 milioane lei vechi).. According to analysis by Macropolis, the average pension in Greece is roughly €700 per month, while the supplementary one is €169.
90% din cheltuielile cu pensiile merg spre pensiile principale. The same analysis also shows that nearly 90% (€2.07bn) of the total monthly expenditure (€2.35bn) on pensions in March went towards the main pension.
It also reveals that only 0.6% of supplementary pensions were above €500 a month.
60% dintre pensionari au pensii mai mici de 800 EU (adica 60% au pensii mai mici de 36 milioane lei vechi) For 60% of pensioners the total gross monthly intake is below €800. In addition, many retirees in Greece have already seen their pensions cut. Some by a third, others by nearly 50%.
Fourth, although there can be no doubt that many Greeks will have jumped on early retirement possibilities, exploited loopholes and claimed pensions when they weren’t allowed to, one needs to only look at the change in the unemployment rate among 55-64 year olds – it now stands at 20%, up from 6% five years ago – to realise that many will have opted for early retirement not because they wanted to, but because they were unable to find work - and a pension is often the only safety net.
Fifth, sustaining pensions through contributions alone is a just endeavour but doing so by raising taxation, mainly on consumption, is a questionable prescription given the patient’s state.
In 2012, pension funds, which were obliged under a law introduced in 1950 by the then king of Greece, Paul I, to keep a minimum of 77% of their assets in government bonds, took an €8.3bn hit following the restructuring of sovereign debt.
Nearly a third of what pension funds have lost since then is due to a fall in contributions on the back of surging unemployment. The unemployment rate is still painfully high (26.6%, while in 2009 it was 9.5%), and nearly eight out of 10 of the country’s jobless have been out of work for 12 months or more.
Any saving brought about by simply purging early retirees’ benefits, cutting supplementary pensions horizontally across the board, or revenue raised by squeezing a drastically depleted pool of taxpayers, would in the short-term allow Greece to unlock the €7bn tranche of bailout funds it needs to carry on servicing its debt (and not default).
However, it would do little to solve the underlying challenges in the longer term.
The wider problem
The key point is there is no question that the Greek pension system, and broader economic fundamentals, are unsustainable.
But so too is Greece’s societal and humanitarian predicament.
There is a clear conflict between the economics, society and the politics, the immediate versus the long term. And there is no single solution that can immediately satisfy all three conundrums simultaneously.
But the risk is that by continuing to pull in different directions in search of a one-size-fits-all answer, the fabric of Greece, and with it possibly that of the wider eurozone, will eventually tear.
To borrow a cliche, creditors, debtors and politicians will all need to compromise more if they want to move this saga on to a more sustainable path.
Procentul din PIB alocat pensiilor
Cheltuieli in Euro per pensionarContinue reading...
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