x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Wealthy dead Greeks

There's a cynical quip from the 1960s about over-the-hill rock singers who die in small plane crashes: "That's a great career move." Thanks for a government error, being a dead Greek is another.

There's a cynical quip from the 1960s about over-the-hill rock singers who die in small plane crashes: "That's a great career move."

Being a dead Greek is another. According to the Greek labour ministry, thousands of Greeks are collecting pension cheques despite being dead. A recent data crosscheck discovered that 4,500 deceased civil servants were still on the social security payroll to the tune of €16 million (Dh102 million) per year.

The government is now investigating a suspiciously high number of people over the age of 100 - more than 9,000 hardy codgers - who are still drawing funds from the hard-pressed Greek social security fund.

The Labour Ministry has pledged to cut spending by €8 billion in 2012-2015, one of several conditions Greece must meet to continue receiving bailout funds from the European Union and the IMF.

Cracking down on fraud could help Greece to meet its targets without cutting benefits. "Fiscal consolidation without social cost is feasible, provided there is will, persistence and efficiency," said Louka Katseli, Greece's labour minister.

And what about those 9,000 centenarians? "We are currently checking how many of them are alive," Mr Katseli said. Perhaps they should have thought of that before.