ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will this year return 1.4 billion euros (1.2 billion pounds) to pensioners whose income was slashed during the financial crisis of the past decade, the country’s prime minister said on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative government made the decision following a top court ruling which said that some pension cuts imposed in 2015-2016 were illegal.
Mitsotakis said the one-off payment applies only to main pensions - not supplementary pensions or benefits. The money will be distributed to about 2 million private and public sector pensioners, a government official said.
The decision is expected to burden this year’s budget. Greece’s economy is seen shrinking by up to 10 percent this year due a nationwide lockdown the government imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“This particular cost touches the limits of the country’s fiscal potential,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers. “There is no room for further provisions.”
Under the terms of three international bailouts in 2010-2015, Greece cut state pensions several times to reduce spending and make the system viable.
The country still has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the eurozone and the health pandemic dashed its hopes for strong growth this year.
Its finances are being closely monitored by the country’s international lenders, the European Union and the IMF.
Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Alexandra Hudson