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Heating Allowance May be Cut for Greece's Poor

At risk of being cut from this year’s budget to another round of austerity measures is some 130-150 million euros ($167.5-$193.6 million) designed to provide heating oil allowances for the poor and elderly who otherwise will not be able to buy the fuel to keep warm in the winter.
During a meeting between Finance Vice Minister Yorgos Mavraganis with Secretary of Information Systems Charis Theoharis and representatives of the three parties that support the coalition government, officials presented alternative scenarios for granting the allowance, but could not give a definitive answer if it would be granted this year, the newspaper Protothema reported.
The talks will resume next week  and are reportedly looking at two options: if the money is not approved this year, citizens will have to pay from their own pockets the full price of heating oil and get their money back in 2013, as a bonus. But that didn’t answer how the poor and elderly who can’t pay will be able to obtain the fuel, and there’s no guarantee it would be repaid if they did or be eligible to receive a tax return on the consumed fuel.
The question raised is whether and how poor households will be able to purchase oil this year buying it at 1.40 to 1.50 euros per liter with no discount anymore, in order to be eligible to receive the tax return on consumed fuel. To receive the refund of the difference in tax in 2013, taxpayers would electronically submit to the GSIS the invoice of oil purchase and the details to get the bonus after an audit.
The audit will be done with a special coupon that beneficiaries will get from the Ministry of Finance. Upon receiving the heating oil they will detract its value from that of the oil. Then they will deliver it to the oil provider who will record the data of the coupons in the oil handling system Hephaestus in order to credit that amount to their account
But if the monies are approved for this year, it will be given in two installments, one this year and one next year. Officials are planning to grant it based on four criteria: income, geographic, social and property. This meant that those legible to receive it will be low wage earners, pensioners, unemployed, famlies with three or more children and citizens with very low incomes who live in areas of the country in which the average temperature during the months of October-April is low.
The allowance could escalate or be interrupted, depending on the size of the house or income. This provides that the allowance is graduated from 100 to 400 euros and will be paid to taxpayers with family income up to 20,000 euros. The amount will be different depending on the region, 300 euros for a single person or 340-400 euros for married and families with children residing in the prefectures of Grevena, Kozani, Florina, etc., while in Crete and the Dodecanese it will be just 100-150 euros, depending on the size of the house.
(Sources: Protothema, Capital)

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