Why is Austria's €500 climate bonus causing controversy?
In Austria, even the dead are getting help from the state to confront surging prices as Europe confronts an energy crisis following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Since the beginning of the month, Austria has been paying out €500 to each adult who has been resident in the country for six months in 2022 to help deal with inflation.
The broad criterium for payment means even those who have died but still are in the database of taxpayers are receiving the payments.
"It isn't legally possible to recover them," Environment Ministry spokeswoman Martina Stemmer told AFP.
The relatives of some recently deceased Austrians have taken to the press to express their surprise they get to keep the money, and is adding fuel to the fire of controversy over the payments. Many also claim the payments should not be given equally, as they benefit thousands of high earners unnecessarily.
The liberal opposition party Neos on Wednesday called for a reform of the mechanism, denouncing "a waste of taxpayer money which is ending up not only in the pockets of high earners but the dead as well."
The "klimabonus" or climate bonus was originally introduced to distribute to consumers some of the funds raised from a carbon tax on polluters, but the amount was increased to help compensate for the surge in inflation driven by a spike in energy costs following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Every person who has been a resident in Austria for six months in 2022 will receive automatically the €500 payment (minors receive a €250 sum) either directly on their bank accounts or through a mailed voucher in the scheme that the government announced in May.
Millions of people are entitled to the payment, which the government has started sending in early September.