Welfare benefits on governments radar

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram All welfare benefits currently granted by the state are set to be scrutinized by officials at the Health Ministry in the coming months, in a bid to combat extensive cases of fraud. All benefit recipients will have to register at a Citizens’ Advice Bureau (KEP). This week, municipalities began sending out notifications for the process, which is expected to last through February, and when the registration period is up authorities will go through the collected data in a bid to identify cases of fraud that appear to mostly involve multiple registrations. Prompted by recent allegations of bogus benefit claims, the ministry has drawn up a rather unusual national disabilities map depicting suspiciously high incidences of particular ailments. Residents of Viotia, central Greece, for example, appear particularly sensitive to asthma attacks as an unusually high number of patients receive benefits for the illness. Similarly, the southeast Aegean island of Kalymnos appears to have an exorbitantly large occurrence of mental ailments, while Zakynthos in the Ionian could well be described as the “island of the blind.” A doctor on the island allegedly charged 5,000 euros to provide blindness certificates. Meanwhile, data on Thessaloniki collected by the ministry point to a significant rise in the number of people with severe disabilities particularly among Roma and ethnic Greeks from the Black Sea region. In 2010, more than 1,150 inhabitants were listed as heavily disabled, prompting Deputy Health Minister Markos Bolaris to say that the figure “would have been appropriate if Greece had fought in the Vietnam War.” Corinth also has an inordinately high number of disabled benefit claimants. Some 210,000 people are currently earmarked for benefits, a figure that is mainly attributed to multiple registrations, which Bolaris describes as “provocative.” Municipalities are not free of blame for the situation, since they have failed to make use of a digital database, known as the Greek Public Administration Network (OPSNA), which alerts the occurrence of multiple entries. But according to Bolaris, some municipalities have deactivated the system while others have installed their own software. There is also a number of municipalities that have stuck with written records. Following the new census, authorities are hoping to trim at least 250 million euros from a total 6.2 billion spent annually on social welfare benefits, while multiple registrations will be erased. People who receive benefits for disabilities, housing and other categories of beneficiaries are to be invited to sign up at their local KEP between February 1 and March 15 providing full details. Benefit claimants can give power of attorney to someone else in cases where they themselves are unable to show up at the KEP.last_img read more

Libs line up for Dunkley minus Zographos

first_imgWith nominations open for the Victorian seat of Dunkley, to be vacated by former Liberal minister Bruce Billson at the next election, City of Monash councillor Theo Zographos, who initially considered running for the Liberal Party, has pulled out.Speaking to Neos Kosmos Mr Zographos said that due to family commitments he had withdrawn from the contest.“I was very grateful for the many words of encouragement that I received, however, on this occasion I wasn’t in a position where I could pursue it,” he said.“As a councillor I remain fully committed to serving the people of Oakleigh and the Monash community.”Zographos added that his priorities at City of Monash included ensuring the council’s $31 million capital works program was on track to deliver benefits for the local community, and push forward with construction of a 195-place multi-level car park in Oakleigh.He leaves the hotly-contested battle for Dunkley to a field which includes former Kingston mayor Paul Peulich, local party figure Peter Angelico, Nathan Hersey, a member of Bruce Billson’s staff, and former Carrum MP Donna Bauer​, who is the frontrunner.Others contenders include Matt Berry, a former staffer to Frankston MP Geoff Shaw, and Chris Crewther​, the unsuccessful 2013 candidate for the rural seat of Mallee.Dunkley is currently held by the Liberals with a margin of 5.6 per cent. A major proportion of that margin is believed to be attributable to Mr Billson’s strong personal following. Preselection will be finalised later this month.The ALP’s Dunkley candidate is a former criminal defence lawyer and legal aid public advocate, Peta Murphy.Meanwhile another Greek Australian preselection candidate has missed out in Victoria after running for the ALP in the seat of Wills.Moreland City councillor Lambros Tapinos lost in the local ballot to Peter Khalil, a former adviser to Kevin Rudd. Mr Khalil was expected to take the seat ahead of former Senator Mehmet Tillem, and adviser to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Anna-Maria Arabia. Mr Khalil’s victory has seen local Labor members angry at what is seen as a deal between factional heavies to secure Mr Khalil the seat. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more