Fri, May 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Committee approves pension reforms

‘MAJOR HURDLE’:Lawmakers reviewed and agreed on 75 of the 92 articles in the amendment package and are to discuss the remaining articles in cross-caucus talks

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang, left, and other legislators review the draft pension reform bill during a meetinf of the Judiciary Committee at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Draft amendments to reform the civil servants’ pension system yesterday passed the first stage of review at the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, but several key issues were left unresolved and are to be discussed in cross-caucus negotiations.

After lawmakers across party lines reviewed 75 of the 92 articles in the amendment, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), co-convener of the committee, announced that the lawmakers had agreed on major points and adjourned the session at about 6pm.

The 17 articles upon which the lawmakers failed to agree include major amendments proposed by the DPP to reform civil servants’ pensions, including an 18 percent preferential savings rate for retired public employees, the income replacement ratio for retirees and a minimum level for monthly pensions.

The first stage, in which the lawmakers reviewed each article, has been concluded and the amendment package is to be discussed in cross-caucus negotiations, Tuan said.

The committee’s review over the past week saw the use of stalling tactics — mostly by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, in an effort to derail the process — resulting in confrontations and physical altercations on Monday, along with a shouting match and disturbances on Wednesday.

The committee passed an article establishing a 15-year period prior to retirement to determine the base income replacement rate, which was sought by the DPP, but the KMT blocked efforts to phase out the 18 percent preferential savings rate over three years.

“We have crossed a major hurdle with the end of the process today,” Tuan told reporters after the meeting.

“However, we still have a difficult road ahead of us and there is still work to be done in cross-caucus negotiations. The other parties still hold tough positions on important reforms for the benefit of retired civil servants and they will be hard-pressed to change their positions,” he added.

KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) praised Tuan’s conduct during the review process, saying: “Our party has seen Tuan’s efforts to compromise when the proposals were met with disagreement.”

“There were several articles over which the parties were squabbling and we have seen Tuan insist, but also make compromises and change his stance during the session,” Wang said.

Amid varying viewpoints, lawmakers discussed and requested clarification on the pension rate calculation for civil servants who held their office for at least five years before working in the private sector; on people who were convicted of a crime, are serving prison terms or are fugitives; and on survivors’ benefits for a civil servant’s relatives in case of their death by suicide or accident.

The committee also agreed that the money saved by lowering the 18 percent preferential savings rate and the income replacement ratio should be returned to the pension fund.

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