Legislators yesterday slammed the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) for planning to give employees a year-end bonus of 3.8 months’ salary despite the poor financial condition of the bureau and the poor state of the economy.
At the Health, Environment and Labor Committee meeting yesterday, legislators demanded to know how the bureau could afford such luxurious year-end bonuses at a time when many people are worried about losing their jobs or have already been laid off.
Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said that many people were not getting paid their monthly salaries, let alone bonuses. He said the bureau should not be handing out such large amounts, especially with the BNHI fund suffering losses year after year.
Bureau head Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) defended the bonus plan.
“BNHI employees do not have many of the benefits that employees at the other government agencies are entitled to, such as monthly pension payments, tuition subsidies, premium bank deposit rates ... and labor pensions,” Chu said.
Department of Health (DOH) minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) also defended the bureau, but admitted that the bonus package would bring the bureau negative publicity.
“The bureau has very little manpower … Its 3,200 employees have to look after NT$400 billion [US$12 billion] in BNHI funds,” Yeh said. “[The bureau has] performed very well.”
However, the BNHI should “take into consideration how the bonuses would be viewed by the public” and the calculation of employees’ year-end bonuses should be adjusted to be consistent with other administrative offices, he said.
The performance of employees should not be evaluated based on financial gains or losses of the BNHI fund, he said.