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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-07-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Bill on pension system
  • [02] Bill on protecting biodiversity

  • [01] Bill on pension system

    The government on Friday tabled a closely watched draft bill in Parliament on reforming the pension system for Greece's vast public sector.

    Among the key features of the new bill is that it equalises retirement ages for men and women, gradually abolishing rights previously held by women -- only in the public sector -- to retire at an earlier age if they had at least one minor under the age of 18 or three or more children.

    For a brief transitional period between 2011-2013, both men and women will have the right to retire at a younger age based on these rules, increasing from 50 years to 52 in 2011 and 55 in 2012, while from 2013 onward the age of retirement for both genders will be 65, regardless of other factors.

    Age of retirement will also be equalised for men and women with adult or no children based on the new bill. Women in the public sector currently have the right to retire at 60 years, compared to 65 for men. Under the new rules, both men and women will be able to retire at 61 in 2011, at 63 in 2012 and at 65 from 2013 onward.

    The exception will be men and women with handicapped children, where from 2011 the age of retirement will remain at 50 years for women, while it will be lowered from 65 to 50 years for men.

    Apart from the above, for pensions above 1,400 euros per month, the bill brings back the so-called "LAFKA" levy and introduces the new "Pensioners Solidarity Contribution", ranging from 3-10 percent.

    It also places those hired in the public sector from 2011 in the unified IKA pension fund and equates the status of public-sector pensioners with those of the private sector in other ways, establishing the same system of a 'welfare' and contributions-based pension for the public sector from 2015, while it abolishes the right to pension for unwed adult daughters with the exception of those that are judged incompetent or are still students.

    ND reaction

    In later statements, main opposition New Democracy (ND) labour and social insurance sector head MP Ioannis Vroutsis reiterated his party‚s decision to vote down the government-sponsored draft law, terming it as "the biggest social disruption in the country‚s recent history."

    Commenting on the law submitted in Parliament, he said pensions will be dramatically reduced, while the fact that pensions will not be guaranteed by the state anymore, except for the basic pension, was cited as the most important setback.

    Vroutsis stressed that the new social insurance system is a system of "low expectations", pointing out that it is a system unfair to low-income earners, injures social cohesion and breaks down social solidarity.

    [02] Bill on protecting biodiversity

    The environment ministry on Friday unveiled its draft bill on protection of biodiversity, which will be posted on the site www.opengov.gr as of Monday for a period of public debate. The bill establishes a more effective legal framework for protecting biodiversity and simplifies the procedures for declaring an area protected, while it also updates the existing legislation and harmonises this Community directives.

    Among the main elements of the bill are:

    The establishment of a five-tier system of protected environments, ranging from fully protected wildlife habitats, protected natural habitats, wildlife parks both regional and national, areas of protected habitats and species subdivided into Special Conservation Zones, Special Protection Zones and Wild Life Shelters and, finally, protected landscapes. One innovation in this system is the inclusion of marine habitats in the above classifications, including that of shelters and marine landscapes.

    The bill also bans the installation of dangerous industrial and other activities that are damaging to the environment in areas in the NATURA 2000 network. Exceptions to this rule are allowed when there is a proven lack of alternatives for activities considered of national importance and of the utmost public benefit for the national economy, provided that compensatory measures are taken.

    The bill also establishes measures to protect important species and the natural habitat, protect endemic biodiversity and genetic capital, while establishing penalties for damage to protected areas and sensitive ecosystems.


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