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Greek pension fund official paints gloomy picture amid austerity

(Xinhua)

20:06, December 15, 2011

ATHENS, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The collapse of welfare state in Greece to avert default have deterioted the lives of millions of Greek people, caused unprecedented social crisis and may send shockwaves beyond borders, an official told Xinhua this week.

"The wave of spending cuts that drives the social insurance system to the brink of collapse and Greek society to extreme poverty, is not the way (out of the debt crisis)," said Nikos Hatzopoulos, President of IKA Employees Federation, the largest state-run health and pension fund in Greece.

He called on Greek and European citizens to join forces and demand a change of course towards a more balanced distribution of burdens and development.

Hatzopoulos argues that "bankruptcy is already a reality" for the average low and middle-class household, struggling with a dramatic income reduction since 2009.

"Amidst mounting recession, we face revenues slippage, increasing unemployment rates and poverty.. There are already free charity meals on offer. Shortly people will be knocking on neighbors' doors asking for a kilo of milk to feed their children. The problem is huge," he said.

According to the latest official data recession has reached 5.5 percent in 2011, unemployment stands at 46.6 percent amongst youth under 25 years old, poverty rates stand at above 20 percent amongst elders.

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