Fri, Mar 15, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Pension dispute emerges

LEGAL DUEL The Cabinet wants too institute pensions for the elderly without further legislative action, but lawmakers hope to make legislative approval a must

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

After Cabinet Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said yesterday that the Executive Yuan would coordinate inter-ministerial differences over its plan to create a pension for the elderly by amending the Elders' Welfare Law, lawmakers showed they had other ideas.

Looking to beat the Cabinet to the punch, the PFP legislative caucus yesterday filed a legislative proposal to enact a law governing the issuance of pensions, with criteria for beneficiaries identical to that of the Cabinet plan.

The PFP proposal easily won the support of the KMT caucus.

The Cabinet plan is due to be finalized next week.

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) said that opposition parties have insisted the program be backed up by law because they wanted to "ensure the program's survivability, given the fact that DPP-controlled local governments have instituted similar programs in the past that have collapsed within months."

Going it alone

The Cabinet's proposed amendment is designed to stipulate categorically that "authorities concerned" in the central government, specifically the Ministry of the Interior, are empowered to set down the rules and criteria for the issuance of the pension fund in the form of an executive order.

The passage of an executive order amending the Elders' Welfare Law enables the Cabinet to avoid enacting a new law and ensures that it doesn't violate a resolution passed by the previous legislative session, which holds back the money for the program until a n authorizing law is passed.

The Cabinet fears that opposition lawmakers would change the criteria for who qualifies for the program in the process of enacting the law, which it argues would would inevitably increase government spending.

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

The legislature's resolution requires that the NT$16 billion be held back until a law authorizing the pension program is created.

The Cabinet originally planned to approve a draft amendment at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to be sent to the legislature for review and passage.

Draft amendment held up

But the draft was put on hold, due to opposition from some Cabinet members, including Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) and Minister without portfolio Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), who insisted that the program could be launched without enacting or amending any laws.

Chen argued that the Executive Yuan is empowered to implement the budget as long as it has been passed by the legislature.

Citing the Central Regulation Standards Law (中央法規標準法), Chen said public interest measures could be implemented with an executive order and do not require a law.

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