Sat, Dec 30, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Legislators bring session to halt in pensions dispute

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chu Fong-chi, center, clashes with a group of Democratic Progressive Party legislators in the legislature during a debate on the DPP-proposed abolition of the preferential interest rates enjoyed by retired civil servants, who have long been regarded as staunch KMT supporters.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

The issue of pensions for retired government employees paralyzed the legislative session yesterday as pan-green lawmakers obstructed a vote on a pan-blue-proposed resolution aimed at annulling reform of the system.

The session proceeded intermittently as pan-green lawmakers with protest banners occupied the podium on the legislative floor whenever Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) tried to put the issue to a vote.

Failing to proceed the session smoothly, Wang convened caucus whips of all parties to negotiate on how to deal with the deadlock without reaching a resolution from around noon to 6pm. The session was then adjourned until Tuesday.

Pan-green and pan-blue lawmakers blamed each other for paralyzing yesterday's session.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislative caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) told a press conference that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should take full responsibility for the standstill as they staged an irrational boycott of the vote.

People First Party (PFP) legislative caucus whip Cheng Chin-ling (鄭金玲) said in a separate press conference that, unless the issue was put to a vote, the party would unite with the KMT and Non-Partisan Solidarity Union to boycott negotiation with the DPP.

Under an 18 percent preferential interest rate system introduced in the 1950s for retired military personnel, civil servants and teachers, their post-retirement income, as compared with pre-retirement income, can reach as high as 115 percent.

After weighing in various factors such as seniority and position, the Cabinet passed a proposal to reduce the pension replacement rate of pre-retirement income for the recipients of the system to no more than 90 percent. It is due to come into effect on Feb. 16.

Pan-blue legislators recently introduced a resolution in the legislature to annul the Cabinet's proposal and demanded compensation for recipients who have been affected by the plan for the loss of interest over the past 10 months.

Yesterday's vote was to determine whether to continue with the Cabinet's proposal or with the adoption of the pan-blue lawmakers' resolution.

"It's imperative to carry out the government's proposal as the initial system has been a financial burden to the government and causing social inequality among the public. Reform is uncompromising," said DPP Legislative caucus whip Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津).

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