President not trying to deceive in pension row

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President Nikos Christodoulides is not hiding anything, said government spokesperson Constantinos Letymbiotis on Friday, after criticism over the controversial issue of multiple pensions for state officials.

Earlier in the week, President Christodoulides was called out after failing to include an early pension he receives on top of his salary in a required statement over his assets and income as a state official.

Opposition parties also fired at him for not voluntarily declining the pension, as other officials were reported to have done.

“It is important to clarify that no procedure exists for foregoing the pension,” Letymbiotis said in comments to state radio CyBC.

“In the past, such a procedure existed, and some ministers voluntarily donated their pensions to certain bodies,” he added.

The government spokesperson said the Finance Ministry will be tasked with reviewing terms and practices, as the matter of multiple pensions and salaries given out to officials does not involve only the President.

President Christodoulides received a pension as a retired diplomat following his time as Foreign Minister under the Nicos Anastasiades administration.

Although it is not illegal for a civil service employee to claim an early pension after being promoted to a government position, Christodoulides failed to put this in his asset statement, unlike other ministers in his cabinet.

Christodoulides receives €1,300 per month pension from the Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, the issue of multiple pensions will be discussed at the House Finance Committee in two weeks.

Following the uproar over President Christodoulides receiving multiple pensions, the House committee is set to discuss several bills that have been in the rafters since 2016.

In 2010, the issue of the multiple pensions being limited or even offset was raised when Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis submitted a bill to parliament, thus saving a few million euros per year for the state.

The bill passed in 2011, but later, in 2014, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, following appeals by several officials.

According to the legislation, pensions of persons holding public office would be suspended during their term.

Since then, four more bills have been submitted to be examined, but all have remained on the shelf by MPs.

Parliament will launch a new discussion on the matter and the bills on October 16.

One of the bills could see the age that state officials receive pensions raised to 63 from 60, along with other adjustments for those who served in the civil service and then took on government roles.

Another, submitted in 2016 by then DISY leader Averof Neophytou, foresees the pension age of officials to be raised to 65 as is for the general population.

A second bill he submitted aimed to regulate the submission of the pension at the same time as a salary so that the total monthly earnings do not exceed the salary of their current position.

The maximum pension that an active state official who has served in one or more posts stands at €6,472 a month.