Tue, Apr 14, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Legislature issues 'fat cat' resolution for top executives

By Crystal Hsu and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature's Finance Committee yesterday passed a "fat cat" resolution suggesting that top executives at organizations regulated by the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) not receive salaries and bonuses surpassing those of the FSC chief. FSC Chairman Sean Chen (陳冲), who defended the policy when fielding questions from lawmakers earlier in the day, said he respected the committee's position, which is not legally binding.

The resolution, introduced by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), said chairmen and presidents of companies and institutes under FSC jurisdiction should not receive more pay and bonuses than the top FSC official.

Like Cabinet ministers, the FSC chairman has a salary of about NT$230,000 (US$6,800) per month, or NT$2.76 million a year. His government-appointed counterparts at Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp (TWSE), Taiwan Futures Exchange, GRETAI Securities Market and other organizations enjoy annual salaries of between NT$6 million and NT$8 million, plus a six-month bonus and other stipends, even if some of the organizations do not perform well, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said.

Lo said the performance of some executives left much to be desired.

"The FSC should deal with its own problems before trying to find fault with others," Lo said, referring to the agency's request late last month that all underperforming domestic financial institutions make known the salaries of their board members, supervisors and presidents.

She said the salaries of employees at these affiliates were "unreasonably high."

"Take employees at the TWSE, for example. They receive the equivalent of more than 20 months of salary every year, including monthly bonuses," she said.

Lo said the legislature had passed an amendment to the Corporation Act (公司法) that would impose a limit on the salaries of managers at companies joining the government?s bailout plans, but "before pointing fingers at others, the FSC should review itself."?

Chen said that "fat cats" refer to top corporate executives who collect generous bonuses even though their companies incur huge losses and receive government subsidies.

The firms under FSC supervision have been posting strong earnings of between NT$3.60 and NT$5.70 per share, Chen said.

For this reason, it wasn't fair to leave such accusations against them, he said.

TWSE chairman Schive Chi (薛琦) said he and other colleagues did not collect any bonuses and felt no qualms about their pay.

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