OECD Public Governance Reviews

ISSN :
2219-0414 (online)
ISSN :
2219-0406 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/22190414
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This series of country reviews assesses public governance arrangements from an international comparative perspective in terms of their ability to deliver on  government objectives, in particular for the whole-of-government, and preparedness to meet current and future challenges. They analyse the operation of the subject country's public administration, with a particular focus on horizontality within the public administration, the relationships between levels of government and with citizens and businesses, innovation and quality of public service delivery, and the impact of information society policy on e-government. They draw on an extensive review of information about public governance and the operations of public administration in the subject country; and a series of interviews with public officials at the state and sub-national levels.

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Greece: Reform of Social Welfare Programmes

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
29 July 2013
Pages :
192
ISBN :
9789264196490 (PDF) ; 9789264196483 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264196490-en

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This review provides an analytical perspective of the current situation, including the construction of a database, in order to help the Greek government define reforms to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of selected social programmes. The review identifies gaps and overlaps in social protection, and highlights areas where there is room for significant efficiency gains, in order to support informed and concrete decisions by the Greek government on where budgetary savings can most appropriately be made, taking into account the balance between societal groups and the need to maintain social cohesion.

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    Foreword and Acknowledgements

    This report was undertaken at the request of the Greek Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Welfare, in order to provide them with advice and recommendations on reforming Greek social programmes. The OECD was asked to provide a well-founded analytical perspective of the current situation, including the development of a database, in order to help the Greek government define reforms to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of selected social programmes. The aim was to identify gaps and overlaps in social protection, and highlight areas where there was room for significant efficiency gains. This was requested in order to support informed and concrete decisions by the Greek government on where budgetary savings could most appropriately be made, taking into account the balance between societal groups and the need to maintain social cohesion. The analysis builds extensively on the database constructed by the OECD on the basis of administrative data collected from the Greek authorities

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    Note to readers

    Significant developments took place between early 2011, when the work on this report started, and the end of 2012. These developments reflect a determination on the part of the Greek Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Welfare to move forwards speedily with deep reforms.

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    Abbreviations and acronyms
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    Key findings
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    Executive summary

    This report needs to be read in the broader context of continued measures to address Greek fiscal challenges, and their social consequences, which are summarised in the box below.

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    Economic, social and systemic context of social welfare reforms in Greece

    This chapter presents the economic, social and systemic context for the reform of Greek social insurance and welfare programmes. It starts with a review of the fiscal and economic situation, including fiscal consolidation objectives and the share of social programmes in government expenditure. It then presents data on trends in social expenditure and international comparisons. It goes on to consider trends in the poverty rate. The chapter concludes with a strategic review of the current system and a strategy for social protection, and the weaknesses that need to be addressed.

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    The current Greek benefit system

    Preamble: the analysis presented in this chapter does not take account of the most recent reforms. Please see Annex B for an overview of these reforms.
    This chapter presents information on four main categories of social benefits: unemployment benefits, benefits for families, disability benefits, and housing benefits. It analyses these benefits in an international comparative context, in terms of the beneficiaries, the relative proportion of assistance and insurance-based expenditure, trends in expenditure, and in relation to key indicators such as the unemployment rate. It uses this analysis to draw conclusions on where and how benefits could be reformed in order to be more efficient and effective in reaching those in real need.

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    Towards more effective benefit system design in Greece

    Preamble: this chapter has not been updated to take account of the most recent reforms. Please see Annex B for an overview of these reforms.
    This chapter starts with an explanation of the cost-benefit analysis of reform scenarios, based on means testing, which has been carried out by the OECD. The simulations of different reform options consider their expected impact on fiscal consolidation and on the poverty rate. The chapter then proposes further, more detailed criteria, against which reform options should be assessed by Greece: practical feasibility, legal obligations and operational costs and savings. The chapter goes on to consider the issues around the introduction of means testing. Finally, the relationship between social welfare funding and taxation is highlighted.

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    Towards more effective system governance in Greece

    Preamble: Recent institutional developments have been only briefly referenced in this chapter. See Annex B for an overview of recent developments.
    This chapter considers the governance of social welfare in Greece. It starts with an examination of the current central governance structures and ministry responsibilities. It then considers the current structures and governance of social security funds, with reference to information and communication technology (ICT) systems, human resources, control of fraud and the collection of contributions. It also considers the reporting and accounting obligations of social security funds, and the provision of benefits on the ground.

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      Reader's guide
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      Update of key recent developments in social welfare reforms in Greece

      This annex sets out key legal and other initiatives in Greek social welfare reform as set out to the OECD by the Greek authorities and in the relevant enacted laws, including initiatives since the completion of the OECD analysis and data gathering. The main report evaluates reform issues up until the end of April 2012, and does not evaluate these more recent developments. They are, however, proof of a clear determination on the part of the lead ministry, the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Welfare, to move forward speedily with reforms. The reforms are to achieve savings and raise efficiency, as well as to secure a framework that enables more effective monitoring of benefits.

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      Overview of social welfare and related reforms in Greece in the last 20 years

      This annex provides some background on social welfare reforms from the early 1990s to reforms introduced in 2011 and 2012. Recent changes suggest a promising acceleration in the reform process.

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      Cost-benefit analysis of proposed reforms to the Greek social welfare system
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      Key features of the OECD Database on Social Programmes in Greece
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      Government expenditure in Greece in 2010

      Greece’s public expenditures relative to GDP are broadly in line with the average for the euro area. In 2010, Greece spent approximately half of its GDP to finance general government expenditures, less than a percentage point below the euro area average (Figure F.1). Preliminary data for 2011 suggest that recent cuts in primary expenditures have been offset by an increase in spending to finance the government debt and have not significantly affected the share of GDP that finances general government expenditures.

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      Design and implementation of means testing for social protection

      This annex assesses the benefits and disadvantages of means testing social protection programmes. It also sets out the key considerations to guide the design of a new system. For this, it draws on data and information on unemployment assistance and employment-conditional benefits collected by the OECD for the OECD Indicators of Benefits and Wages (www.oecd.org/els/social/workincentives), as well as evaluations of means-tested programme implementation conducted by OECD member countries. It also highlights sources of additional information and analysis. Transition issues (transition costs, how long it would take to move to this new approach, and the financial and other possible consequences of such a move) are not addressed, but would also need to be taken into account.

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      Glossary
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