Mon, Nov 15, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Legislative caucuses trade blows

GOING NEGATIVE The DPP accused the KMT of obstructionism and said it would pass a pension bill if it won a majority, while the KMT slammed the US arms package

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus once again accused the pan-blue camp of blocking important legislation yesterday, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus dismissed the charge as an election gimmick, and said the DPP was trying to seduce voters with extravagant policies -- including what it called the astronomical amount for the controversial US arms package.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said two days ago that if the pan-green camp won a majority in the legislature, the National Pension Law (國民年金法) would be passed. Chen promised that the passage of the law would allow senior citizens aged 65 or older to receive a monthly pension of NT$7,500.

The Executive Yuan sent the bill to the legislature two years ago for approval, but the bill has been long stuck in the current legislature due to financial and social concerns.

The bill, under its currently proposed version, would require each person to pay NT$600 each month into the system, and receive funds back as pension payments when they turn 65.

The DPP caucus yesterday said that as long as the pan-blue camp dominated the legislature, the bill would not get passed.

"The national pension program has been one of the Executive Yuan's existing policies, and the bill was sent to the legislature long ago. President Chen was just emphasizing the DPP's determination to push through the program," DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said. "The pan-blue legislators have dominated the legislature, so the bill has not passed. The pan-blue lawmakers should not try to shift blame for that."

But the KMT caucus refuted the DPP's accusation, saying the bill did not get passed because of the DPP's passive attitude.

"The DPP lawmakers fear that they would lose votes if people are forced to pay NT$600 every month, so they are not eager to push the bill through," KMT caucus whip Tseng Yuan-chuan (曾永權) said. "But now they are blaming it falsely on the pan-blue camp. This is just an election campaign trick."

Tseng pointed out that the KMT's version of the bill would require the public to pay just NT$480 a month, and in return receive a pension payment of NT$10,000 per month when they turn 65.

However, even the Chen administration's version of the pension bill has been criticized by policy experts for providing insufficient funds for a viable pension system.

Tseng pointed out that the KMT would also propose to cut the NT$610.8 billion arms deal with the US in half, and instead devote the NT$300 billion to a social security system.

Tseng said that the KMT would appeal to the public with the notion of "Half the deal cost, and double the welfare" during the election campaign. "The KMT reckons that the NT$610.8 billion can be cut in half, and that the money saved can be spent on national health insurance, school textbooks and a social security network in order to improve people's lives," Tseng said.

Tseng was reacting in part to the president's statement two days ago that objecting to the arms deal was objecting to the very idea of national security.

To highlight his point, the president revealed that US authorities told him recently that China was now deploying 120 missiles every year aimed at Taiwan, and that this was a significant increase from the original 75.

Tseng said that the KMT does not categorically oppose arms deals.

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