Portugal’s lifetime pensions gravy-train pulls back into town

Against a backdrop in which the leader of the opposition is predicting serious economic disasters ahead, the ‘lifetime pensions’ gravy-train for Portugal’s politicians is gearing up for a massively expensive return.

From the end of September, Caixa Geral de Aposentações – the pensions arm of the State bank that needs a €5.1 billion recapitalisation – is to start paying out monthly instalments of lifetime pensions to former politicians, reports Público.

It is a perk that had been severely reduced by the last administration, but which the Constitutional Court ruled should be resurrected at full throttle.

The current budget apparently allows for a payout that will top €18.78 million this year, but minister for labour and social security José Vieira da Silva has explained that “there are a lot of people who haven’t even asked” for the monthly benefits.

The gravy-train will eventually come to a natural halt, he added, as former PM José Sócrates made sure to draw a line in the sand which determined that lifetime pensions should only go to politicians of 12 consecutive years service up to 2009.

The time-frame included Sócrates himself, who is now claiming his sizeable monthly allowance as a corruption investigation has ring-fenced what it believes to be all other (dubious) sources of income.

Meantime, Vieira da Silva has stressed that lifetime pensions for politicians are perfectly justified as “MPs still do not qualify for unemployment benefit, even though they pay tax. If they are not elected, they don’t get any benefits”, he said.