Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Farmers’ insurance measure passes

By Shih Hsiu-Chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature yesterday passed an amendment to the National Pension Law (國民年金法) that will keep the current farmers’ insurance system separate from the new national pension scheme due to start on Oct.1.

With the amendment passed, some 1.59 million farmers covered by the farmers’ insurance system can choose to stay in the system or join the new scheme.

The national pension system, based on a law enacted a year ago, was initially created to integrate four existing monthly subsidies — the NT$3,000 allowance for senior citizens, the NT$5,000 allowance for elderly farmers, the NT$3,000 for Aboriginal senior citizens and the NT$6,000 for elderly members of low-income households.

The law requires people aged 25 to 65 not covered by military, civil service, teachers’ or labor insurance, plus farmers under the age of 65, to join the scheme.

They will pay a monthly contribution based on a percentage of the national minimum wage, with contributions calculated on a graded scale ranging from 6.5 percent to 12 percent of the minimum wage.

After retirement at the age of 65, contributors will receive a pension of up to NT$8,986 per month for the rest of their life, a figure that will be adjusted in line with changes in the consumer price index.

Farmers groups, however, had continued to express disapproval of the plan since last year, urging lawmakers to preserve the farmers’ insurance system, under which farmers can enjoy more benefits with cheaper premiums in comparison with the planned national pension system.

Under the farmers’ insurance system, each farmer needs to pay just NT$78 in monthly premiums and they are entitled to various benefits such as a NT$153,000 subsidy for burials and funerals.

If the farmers’ insurance scheme is incorporated into the new pension plan, the monthly premium could rise to NT$674 and the subsidy will be reduced from NT$153,000 to NT$86,400.

Earlier this year, the then Democratic Progressive Party government proposed a budget of NT$1.05 billion (US$34.5 million) aimed at helping the farmers pay additional premiums and ensuring that their benefits would remain unchanged under the national pension system.

In response to farmer’s demands, the new Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government referred the amendment to the KMT-dominated legislature for review in May.

Also yesterday the legislature passed the NT$3 trillion budget earmarked for state-owned enterprises and governmental non-profit funds for this year.

Meanwhile, the legislature yesterday voted to confirm the seven nominees of the second term of the National Communications Commission (NCC), the nation’s top communication industry regulator.

They are Hsieh Chin-nan (謝進男), a first term NCC member; Liu Chorng-jian (劉崇堅), a professor of economics at National Taipei University; Weng Hsiao-ling (翁曉玲), an associate professor of law at the Institute of Law for Science and Technology at National Tsing Hua University; Chen Cheng-tsang (陳正倉), a professor of economics at National Taiwan University; Lee Ta-sung (李大嵩), an electrical engineering professor at National Chiao Tung University; Chung Chi-hui (鍾起惠), director of the journalism department at Shih Hsin University and Bonnie Peng (彭芸), a professor of journalism at National Chengchi University.

Before going into recess last night, the legislature also passed a statute of human rights protection and compensation for Hansen’s Disease patients (漢生病病患人權保障及補償提例), which details measures that the government must take to compensate leprosy sufferers.

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