Thu, Apr 20, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Tsai urges peace amid pension reform protests

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

President Tsai Ing-wen yesterday talks about pension reform proposals for public servants at the Presidential Office in Taipei.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday called for peace and understanding as the legislature began its review of pension reform proposals.

The reform proposals have been moved forward following a year of public discussions at meetings of the Presidential Office’s pension reform committee, public hearings and a national conference on pension reform, Tsai said.

The Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan have proposed draft bills to lower income replacement rates, increase pension premiums, raise the retirement age and phase out the preferential savings rate for retired military personnel, civil servants and teachers.

“It is the last mile to complete the reform,” Tsai said at a news conference in the Presidential Office in Taipei.

“As president, I want to say thank you to all public employees. It is because of your understanding that the reform is possible and that young public employees have hope for the future,” Tsai said.

“Former administrations — be it run by the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] or the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] — knew where the problems lay, but they never completely reformed the pension systems, although efforts were made,” she said. “The responsibility has fallen on us and we have to share the burden and go full out to complete the task. The reform has to succeed.”

Tsai also called for peace after some protesters tried to physically obstruct the legislative review.

“We will not tolerate the use of violence to delay reforms. Authorities will investigate any violence that obstructs legislators, government officials or other personnel from entering the Legislative Yuan,” she said.

A total of 11 incidents were reported yesterday, with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮), Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷), DPP legislators Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) and Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) and New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) allegedly being assaulted when they tried to enter the Legislative Yuan.

“The goal of pension reform is not to target or stigmatize anyone. The reform is like halting a horse on the edge of a cliff, and it is critically urgent to save the pension fund from the brink of bankruptcy,” Tsai said.

Her administration would complete the reform and make pensions sustainable and fair, she added.

Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億) said he does not expect legislative review of the proposals to be finalized by the end of next month, and an extraordinary session is likely to be called to complete the review.

Lin, who serves as deputy convener and executive director of the pension reform committee, said further discussions are needed in terms of the speed of the phase-out of the 18 percent preferential savings rate for retired public employees and the minimum monthly pension for military personnel.

The committee proposes phasing out the preferential rate in six years, while the DPP favors two years and the NPP three years, so further negotiations are needed to settle the differences, he said.

While the committee has yet to set a “pension floor” that would allow retired military personnel whose monthly pension falls below this figure to continue to enjoy the 18 percent preferential rate, Lin said the “floor” would not be set above NT$40,000.

The floor set for public servants and teachers is NT$32,160.

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