Wed, Mar 06, 2002 - Page 4 News List

KMT, Cabinet battle over pension plan

STIPENDS The party wants Cabinet to submit a bill that will create a pension plan for the elderly. But the DPP says the legislation required for such a move already exists

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet should submit to lawmakers a bill to create a pension for the elderly within two weeks otherwise the KMT will introduce a plan of its own, the party's legislative caucus said yesterday.

The KMT said yesterday it would join forces with other opposition parties to introduce a pension plan if legislation from the Cabinet isn't submitted soon. The KMT's version will be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, the party's legislative caucus said yesterday.

"The KMT won't dance to the DPP's tune or stand its defamation any more," said Lin Yi-shih (林益世), KMT legislative whip.

KMT members have been upset by the DPP's allegations that opposition members are blocking implementation of a pension for the elderly.

"To entitle all senior citizens around the nation to a pension as soon as possible, the Cabinet should stop playing tricks" and put forth its proposal, Lin said.

Lin said the KMT caucus will meet with Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Minister of Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) today to get a better handle on the Cabinet's stance on the pension plan.

If the Cabinet agrees to introduce a bill into the legislature within two weeks, the KMT will give it priority, Lin said.

The KMT made the request after the Cabinet had appeared reluctant to put forth such a bill.

The government has earmarked NT$16 billion in this year's budget for an NT$3,000 pension for citizens who are over 65 and not covered under existing welfare programs.

The pension plan was one of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) campaign promises during the 2000 presidential race. Opposition lawmakers have criticized the idea as a "DPP largess" intended to win votes.

Under a resolution attached to the budget bill adopted by the previous legislature in January, the NT$16 billion fund will be held back until a law authorizing the pension program is created.

But the Cabinet has argued that there is no need to enact a new law, saying the Elders' Welfare Law (老人福利法) provides sufficient legal basis for the creation of a pension program for the elderly.

On Monday, Yu blamed the legislature for delaying the program, pointing a finger at the resolution. The premier said the Ministry of the Interior planned to lobby lawmakers to pass a new resolution to replace the original one.

Another option is to amend the Elders' Welfare Law to empower the Ministry of the Interior to set down rules and criteria for the issuance of a pension fund, Yu said.

The Cabinet has been trying to avoid sending a new bill to the legislature for fear that the opposition -- especially the KMT -- will change the criteria for who qualifies under the program.

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