Budget safety cushion turns into handouts
The 657-million-euro cushion originally destined for one-off payments for the special wage grids has been turned into the infamously named “13th pension,” the budget data for the first five months of the year reveal.
In fact, that amount was not even enough to finance the government’s handout to pensioners before the European elections, so an extra 314 million euros was forwarded to the Single Social Security Entity (EFKA); therefore the government dispensed a total of 971 million euros for the handout to the retired last month.
Despite the primary surplus of 918 million euros, the budget picture in the January-May period is particularly concerning, on both the revenues side and in terms of expenditure. That is because the budget revenues mainly relied on the collection of 1.12 billion euros from the extension of the concession contract for Athens International Airport and the return of eurozone central banks’ profits from Greek bond holdings, worth 644 million euros.