A scheduled legislative review of pension reform proposals yesterday was postponed until next week, when two legislative hearings on the issue are to be held.
At a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee in Taipei set to review draft bills on pension reform, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus, in an apparent attempt to prevent the review, raised a motion demanding that the review be halted until legislative hearings have been held and the Ministry of Civil Service makes a report on the effect of different reform proposals.
Following a morning of extended debate and cross-caucus negotiation, the legislative committee agreed that no clause-by-clause review of the draft bills would be held until two hearings — one on civil servants’ retirement benefits and the other on public-school teachers’ retirement benefits — are held on Wednesday and Thursday next week.
Although the Presidential Office’s pension reform committee conducted hearings, no legislative hearings have been held on the issue, despite regulations requiring public hearings for major pieces of legislation, KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.
“We do not want to prevent [reform], but we stress humility and communication to convince opponents [of the necessity of the reforms],” KMT caucus convener Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) said.
Shortly before yesterday’s meeting, the Ministry of Civil Service published a report which estimated that the Presidential Office pension reform committee’s proposals would keep the pension funds in the black until 2050, while the Examination Yuan’s proposals would keep the funds in the black until 2044.
The ministry should make a special report on the financial feasibility of different pension reform proposals to allow legislators to review the bills with a more informed opinion, Sufin Siluko said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and New Power Party (NPP) criticized the KMT for attempting to stall the legislative process.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said 24 public hearings and a national conference on pension reform have been held with nearly 2 million people watching the meetings online and the KMT’s demands were merely an attempt to delay the review process.
“Everyone knows that pension reform is a generational issue and the pension funds will go bankrupt without reform,” Ker said. “This is the last and only chance to carry out pension reform.”
“The reform is painful, but necessary. I extend my apologies to people affected by the reforms and appreciate their understanding of the inherent problems with the current pension system,” Ker said.
NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said the former KMT administration had recognized the need to reform the pension system as early as 2012, but failed to carry out the reforms and the KMT is still obstructing efforts to reform the system.
“When it is time to face the pension reform issue, the KMT fails to propose a draft bill. Is that the actions of a responsible opposition party?” Huang said.
The KMT caucus originally agreed to propose its own versions of pension reform bills by yesterday for general review, but it failed to do so, potentially due to pressure from opponents of pension reform.