Sat, Oct 19, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Legislators look to cut personnel costs

REDUCED BENEFITS DPP lawmaker Charles Chiang believes high-ranking government officials should take home less while the nation works to get its finances under control

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

With national finances hurting, lawmakers have proposed cutting costs by reducing their own pay and that of top government officials and political appointees.

DPP Legislator Charles Chiang (江昭儀) said yesterday that the heads of all five branches of government, legislators, Examination Yuan members and Control Yuan members should have their pay cut by 20 percent for two years to help the country get through the economic slump.

By the same token, benefits for retired presidents and vice presidents should be reduced by 30 percent for two years, Chiang said.

Also targeted are 3,442 retired high-ranking military officers, whom the legislator said are spending too much government money.

For example, Chiang said, 44 retired generals and admirals receive a monthly pension of NT$179,500.

"The government will be able to save a lot of money if their retirement pensions are reduced altogether," Chiang said.

Chiang's proposal won immediate support from the KMT and PFP, which plan to achieve the goal through inter-branch negotiations, amending related laws and trimming the budget for personnel expenses.

Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教), the KMT whip, suggested the pay cut for the president, vice president, lawmakers and political appointees should be raised from 20 percent to 33 percent and suggested the special allowances they enjoy should be halved.

PFP caucus convener Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧) said her party had raised a similar proposal around three months ago but was ignored by the DPP.

The TSU, meanwhile, said the officials in question should be encouraged to cut their pay voluntarily, just as President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has done.

This would prevent disrupting the system governing the benefits of government officials, according to TSU caucus convener Su Ying-kwei (蘇盈貴).

Su said the generous special allowances for public appointees, rather than pay, should be targeted.

Su said he has found that many ministry funds contain large administrative fees, which ministers have a free hand to spend.

The amount could reach NT$50 million per annum in a single ministry, Su said, estimating that it would help save billions of NT dollars if lawmakers kept a close watch on this category of spending alone.

In addition, Su proposed that Chen stop hiring paid advisers, which he said would save NT$150 million in annual government spending.

Also yesterday, DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) made an issue of the retirement benefits enjoyed by KMT Chairman and former vice president Lien Chan (連戰).

Tuan said Lien is entitled to a monthly retirement pension higher than that received by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) because Lien has opted to receive the payment according to the standard for political appointees, instead of a separate standard for retired presidents and vice presidents.

According to Tuan, Lien's monthly pension is NT$422,586, while Lee's is NT$411,000.

Lien yesterday said he would give up his retirement benefits if it would help the economic development of the country.

Lien also accused the DPP of distracting public attention from its failure to improve the economy by raising what he said was this irrelevant issue.

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