Fri, Sep 10, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Legislator slams rehiring of retired military personnel

DOUBLE DIPPERS Tang Huo-sheng said that although the military has been trimming ranks, its personnel expenses are growing because retired officers are donning uniforms

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Jobs may be hard to find, unemployment is high and office workers have nothing but complaints, but public servants, military personnel and teachers still enjoy special benefits.

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator yesterday presented evidence that, although the military is cutting back on personnel, its expenses are still increasing.

Much of this money was going to retired officers who, in addition to their pension, are rehired as office staff, giving them a monthly income in excess of NT$100,000 and creating a heavy burden on the government, DPP Legislator Tang Huo-sheng (湯火聖) said.

"A retired naval staff officer surnamed Wang with the rank of captain receives a pension of NT$68,000 and enjoys preferential savings interest rates of 18 percent. After retiring, he was re-employed in the Navy Logistics Command at a monthly salary of NT$53,220, giving him a monthly income of NT$118,332 or an annual income of NT$1,597,482," Tang said.

"It is no wonder the country is in financial difficulties," he said.

Between 1997 and 2001 the military reduced its fighting force from 450,000 to 380,000 people. This should have resulted in a significant reduction in personnel costs, but the figure actually rose from NT$123.7 billion in 1997 to NT$139.2 billion in 2001, Tang said.

"The most obvious increase is in monthly contract personnel," Tang said.

"In 1997 the cost for such staff was NT$4 billion, but by 2001 these costs had more than doubled to NT$9 billion," he said.

"After four years of streamlining the military, over half its budget is spent on personnel. This still accounts for 52 percent of expenditure. It's unbelievable," he said.

Tang's numbers:

* Between 1997 and 2001 the military slimmed down from 450,000 to 380,000 people

* Personnel costs rose from NT$123.7 billion in 1997 to NT$139.2 billion in 2001

* Monthly contract personnel costs were NT$4 billion in 1997, but by 2001 these costs had more than doubled to NT$9 billion

* Of the 120,000 monthly contract workers, 2,507 are retired officers

According to information obtained from the Ministry of Civil Service and the Ministry of National Defense, of the military's 120,000 monthly contract workers, 2,507 are retired officers. Of these, 1,261 are receiving double payments which cost the government NT$2 billion per year.

Tang said that, since contract workers did not deal with confidential or complex military matters, there was absolutely no reason why these jobs should be given to retired officers.

Many of these re-hired officers came from the navy, Tang said. He named two general officers, who, after retiring from a military research facility, were re-employed at the same facility in a senior civilian capacity, earing salaries of up to NT$140,000 a month.

Tang said that the legislature had called on the Executive Yuan to review the monthly contract jobs offered by the military with the aim of reducing them by a third, but that the military had ignored the request.

He said that after his disclosure of these numbers, the Ministry of National Defense refused to provide further information and he had to seek data from the Ministry of Civil Service.

"How does the way the military looks after its own make the 500,000 unemployed Taiwanese feel?" Tang asked.

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