The relevant employment and social security minister on Monday deflected opposition criticism that a “social dividend” the leftist-rightist coalition government wants to distribute next month is the product of over-taxation in the recession-battered country.
During debate in Parliament, Minister Efi Achtsioglou also tabled detailed income and asset criteria that will be used to identity eligible beneficiaries for the “social dividend”, criteria that were not included in the initial draft legislation.
Beyond a court-mandated restoration of social security monthly benefits for certain categories of pensioners, the actual sum to be funneled back to eligible beneficiaries is 720 million euros.
Achtsioglou said an over-performance in terms of the primary budget surplus target, as a percentage of GDP, in the current budget was due to a “significant increase” in revenues for the primary social security fund (EFKA), this on the back of higher employment and reduced unemployment. She added that there was “no room for dispute” of the numbers listed in the draft 2018 budget, as relating to figures for employment, social security revenues etc.
In a bid to dismiss sharp opposition criticism that this year’s over-performance in terms of the memorandum-mandated fiscal target is due to excessive taxes imposed in 2016, Achtsioglou pointed instead to what she claimed was better efforts to combat social security contribution evasion, reduced joblessness and a partial amnesty program to encourage the voluntary disclosure of previously undeclared incomes by Greek taxpayers.