Retirees and other beneficiaries in Greece, exceeding two million, will see a so-called "13th pension" in their bank accounts by Friday, more than a week after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made an unscheduled televised announcement of the specific bonus, along with modest tax breaks and VAT reductions.
The maximum payout is 500 euros per beneficiary, and a minimum of 150 euros for so-called "high-income" pensioners (exceeding 1,000 euros), i.e. those with the most work years and social security contributions.
The partial restoration of the "13 pension" comes two weeks before the European Parliament elections, which all mainstream opinion polls show Tsipras and his hard left SYRIZA party trailing main opposition New Democracy (ND) by high single-digit to low double-digit percentage points.
The political opposition sharply attacked the abruptly announced measures as nothing more than "campaign trinkets" ahead of the ballot box, although most MPs in parliament voted in favor of the measures, regardless of party affiliation.
European and Eurozone partners, however, who are not up for election in Greece, on Thursday expressed concerns, reservations and outright opposition to the measures - following a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels. The criticism mostly centered on the risk that increased spending and loss of revenue entails for primary budget surplus targets that Athens is committed to meeting until 2022.
Just as noteworthy is the fact that the finance ministry on Friday announced that practically all pensions and welfare benefits for May will be paid in the country by next Friday, May 26, just two days ahead of the European Parliament poll.