Year-end bonuses may be lowered this year for employees at the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI), but the exact amount would not be announced until tomorrow, Department of Health (DOH) minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) said.
The bureau had been under fire early this month for considering giving out big year-end bonuses worth as much as 3.8 months of the employees’ salaries.
At the time, Yeh said that he had requested the bureau to submit a proposal on adjusting the amount of the bonus, but as of yesterday, no final decisions has been made.
When approached by reporters, Yeh said that in the past two to three weeks, the bureau had twice submitted proposals on bonus adjustment, and that in the second proposal, the year-end bonus had been lowered to 3.7 months.
Yeh said that he rejected both proposals, but that “by the 31st [of this month], the amount of the bonus has to be decided.”
Yeh made the comments at the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, which was also attended by bureau head Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) and DOH Deputy Minister Cheng Shou-hsia (鄭守夏).
Yeh said: “Although the BNHI is government-owned, employee performance is not evaluated based on the financial condition of the NHI fund.”
“The NHI fund currently has NT$26 billion [US$800 million] in unrealized losses,” Yeh said. “If we don’t do something about it, by the end of next year, the losses would amount to NT$60 billion.”
“However, it is my responsibility [to solve this problem]. It is not fair to blame the employees,” he said.
Although the BNHI had some areas it needed to work on, such as improving the overall quality of medical care, the employees have done a good job in servicing the public, and “the situation is not so severe that their bonuses should be cut,” he said.
Yeh also commended the bureau for its performance, considering that the human resource allocation at the bureau is already “very limited.”
Judging from Yeh’s comment that he rejected the proposal of the slightly smaller bonus of 3.7 months, a larger bonus cut is expected to be announced tomorrow.