President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is expected today to decide the amount of money retired politically appointed officials can put in preferential savings accounts that provide the controversial 18 percent interest rate.
Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said Ma was scheduled to hear reports from the Ministry of Civil Service at the Presidential Office today and discuss the matter with the Executive Yuan and functionaries from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), of which he is chairman.
This will be the third time Ma called a meeting to address the matter. Ma called the first -meeting on Tuesday, when he met officials from the Executive Yuan, the Examination Yuan and KMT at the Presidential Office where they reached a consensus to examine and revise the pension scheme.
After that meeting, Lo announced that the president had instructed the KMT to request party legislators to push legislative revisions to the existing law that would make the system more fair.
Ma’s directive came after the revised Guidelines for Preferential Interest Rate for Pension Paid by Public Insurance of Retired Civil Servants (退休公務人員公保養老給付優惠存款辦法) caused public outcry after it came into force on Jan. 1.
The legislature in July last year pushed through the amendments that were initiated by the Examination Yuan, which allow retired civil servants to deposit more money into their preferential rate accounts beginning this year.
Ma called a second meeting on Thursday, where participants decided to maintain the 18 percent interest rate for certain retired civil servants who choose to receive retirement payments — from their pensions accrued during their years of service prior to 1995 — in monthly installments as opposed to one lump sum.
Lo said the reforms to the program were not targeted at any particular group or case, but rather they were necessary to rectify an unfair system that Lo attributed to proposals put in place by the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration that favored senior officials, while cutting the benefits of those with lower salaries and who had long years of service.
“When there are loopholes in the system, we must fix them so that those problems cannot be manipulated by those who have bad intentions,” he said.
The ceiling set on the amount retired political appointees are allowed to deposit into their accounts that earn the preferential 18 percent interest rate will be applied to Ma and Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) after their preferential treatment period is over, as stipulated in the Statute Governing Preferential Treatment to Retired Presidents and Vice Presidents (卸任總統副總統禮遇條例), Lo said.
“The president and vice president will receive their pensions in accordance with the law,” Lo said. “That is why President Ma requested the reform. To correct the wrong made by the former DPP administration that favored high-level officials at the expense of benefits for lower-level public servants.”
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