Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Over 90% of active military support reform

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa, left, and Veteran Affairs Council Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng attend a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

More than 90 percent of active military personnel support the proposed pension reform for veterans, as their own pensions would be more than what they would have been under the current scheme, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

The ministry made the comments during its briefing to the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on the potential effects of the pension plan, which is to take effect on July 1.

Under the plan, lieutenant generals and those lower in rank who have served in the military for at least 20 years would be entitled to a pension-payment replacement rate of 55 percent, and their pensions would increase 2.5 percent for every additional year of service. Pension for generals would increase 2 percent.

The pension-payment replacement rate would be capped at 90 percent for commissioned officers and 95 percent for noncommissioned officers.

The Military Pension Fund is expected to run dry in 2020, which would lead to a shortfall of NT$1.2 trillion (US$40.5 billion) over the next 30 years, the ministry said.

The reform would ensure the fund’s operation for 30 years and produce an accumulated surplus of NT$126.8 billion, the ministry said, adding that the government’s expenditure for the fund over the next 30 years would drop to NT$3.16 trillion from about NT$3.48 trillion.

The nation has 148,297 voluntary service members, 94 percent of whom are commissioned or noncommissioned officers who joined after 1997, Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) said.

“They support the reform, because their retirement fund would increase by NT$5,494 to NT$19,450 per month,” he said.

The remaining 6 percent are active or retired military personnel who served before 1997, he said.

Among them, about 3 percent serve or served in ranks between colonel and colonel general and would see their pension reduced by NT$5,929 to NT$44,172 per month, Yen said.

“The objective is to care for the benefits of medium to low-ranked officers and those with lower seniority to encourage them to stay in the military longer,” he said, adding that the plan was only introduced after careful analysis by experts.

The feeling of being ripped off by the government was only one of the reasons that caused the veterans to take to the streets, Veterans Affairs Council Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said, citing a report the council is preparing about veterans’ opinions about the plan.

“They have been harboring these negative feelings for a long time. People are often very critical whenever there is any incident that shows a lapse in discipline in the military, which negates years of their efforts and hurts their dignity,” Chiu said.

Reform has caused panic and anxiety among some veterans who are older than 60, most of whom have to take care of their parents as well as their children, Chiu said, adding that the council would enhance their care and offer them financial assistance if necessary.

Chiu said he would not comment on veterans’ satisfaction rate, as it is likely to spark debate.

“Even if there is only one person complaining, it means that we are still not doing enough. We just have to communicate more,” Chiu said.

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