Sat, Jan 28, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Civic groups decry latest version of pension law

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Civic groups yesterday said that the new version of the National Pension Draft Law (國民年金法草案) needed to be reassessed carefully before being sent to the Legislative Yuan for preliminary evaluations. The current draft is poorly designed and does not ensure the rights of many minority groups, they said.

The new draft was approved by the Executive Yuan on Monday, sparking the discontent of many civic groups. The proposed pension law has been discussed for over 13 years, but has never passed preliminary Legislative Yuan evaluations.

Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴), secretary-general of the Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly, made her comments at a conference on the new version of the pension draft law. She described the conference as the first of a series on social welfare policies.

The draft poses great problems since it aims to incorporate labor insurance with pensions in an effort to take care of more people than they can actually afford to, Wu said.

Wu said that instead the government should consider abandoning the pension law and work on expanding labor insurance alone.

Labor insurance can be expanded to include families of workers and in addition, subsidies for the elderly and the disabled can be given monthly instead of in lump sums.

Wu said that the elderly and disabled were better off receiving monthly subsidies since they may otherwise spend the whole amount in a short period of time.

Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), vice-chairperson of the Parents' Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, said that if the pension system worked according to the labor insurance structure, many minority groups would not be able to afford the insurance fee.

To protect the economic rights of the disabled, pensions should also be allocated according to a person's ability to work instead of the severity of their disabilities, Chen said.

The new draft stipulates that the severely handicapped are entitled to pensions while those with `medium' handicaps are not.

Chen said that some people with `medium' handicaps have no ability to work, and that the proposed pension scheme would provide no funds for them.

Huang Min-jun, a social worker at the Alliance for the Physically Disabled, said the new draft stipulates that if a person with `medium' handicaps became severely handicapped, they would then be entitled to a pension.

However, the person would have to repay prior subsidies received from the government before receiving their new pension, she said.

Wu said that according to the draft, pensions0 were not awarded to those who have assets over NT$5,000,000 (US$156,000).

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