Deputy Health Minister Markos Bolaris on Tuesday ordered a probe into a suspiciously high rate of blindness benefits claimed by hundreds of residents on one of its islands after more than 600 of about 30,000 residents of the Ionian Sea island were found to be pocketing the support grant. Press reports hinted that the island in question is Zante.
Officials added that they still do not know if the residents on the island are entitled to the benefits.
In the meantime, the Greek daily Ethnos said that almost two percent of the island’s population has claimed the benefits for years and most of them since infancy. Authorities are now scrutinising the entire Greek social welfare payroll, which they say costs the state 6.4 billion Euros a year, the daily added.
The Greek government is also attempting to limit social overspending as part of a program of cutbacks and austerity measures ordered under pressure from the European Union and International Monetary Fund after the country nearly went bankrupt last year. Chaotic and ineffective account-keeping has led to a massive waste of state funds for decades.