Thu, Jun 07, 2007 - Page 4 News List

KMT calls for NT$3,000 stipend hike

FAIR IS FAIR The party said the allowance for all senior citizens should be increased, arguing that farmers did not merit preferential treatment

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government's proposal to increase monthly pensions for elderly farmers from NT$5,000 to NT$6,000 has triggered a pensions "domino effect," with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday suggesting increasing the monthly pensions for senior citizens from NT$3,000 to NT$6,000.

The KMT proposal was made during cross-party negotiations held yesterday to discuss amendments to the Temporary Act for Welfare Subsidies to the Elderly (敬老福利生活津貼暫行條例).

"There is no reason why elderly farmers should be given more than other pensioners. The increase is based on the principle of fairness," KMT Legislator Chu Chun-Hsiao (朱俊曉) said after the meeting.

Chu said that the party would ask for the proposal to be referred for second and third readings so that it could clear the legislature by the end of this session on June 15.

Vice Minister of the Interior Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) told lawmakers at the meeting that the proposal would cost the government NT$29.5 billion (US$890 million) a year.

In accordance with the Budget Act (預算法), funding must be in place when a proposal that would cost the government extra money is adopted.

Asked how the KMT's proposal would be funded, Chu said: "The funding is the government's problem. It has to figure that out after the amendment is passed."

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) expressed opposition to the proposal at the meeting on behalf of her caucus, saying that the proposal would make it more difficult for the government to implement a national pension system.

She said the DPP would only agree to the proposal on condition that pan-blue lawmakers promise to pass a bill designed to implement the national pension system before the current legislative term expires at the end of this year.

But Huang said that the proposal could still pass the legislature without the pan-blue camp's acceptance of the condition, given the pan-blue camp's majority in the legislature and the approach of the legislative and presidential elections.

The DPP's proposal to raise the monthly stipend for elderly farmers came in the wake of KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) addressing the issue.

Although some DPP lawmakers were against the increase, Vice Premier Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) had said previously that the issue had "become political."

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