Thu, Oct 20, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Legislators question probe into pension hike

Staff Writer, with CNA

Several legislators from across party lines voiced dismay yesterday over a move by Control Yuan members to investigate a proposed raise in the monthly pension for farmers.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) questioned at a legislative hearing whether such a move infringed upon the legislature’s power to enact laws.

Control Yuan members Lee Ful-dien (李復甸), Shen Mei-chen (沈美真) and Liu Yu-shan (劉玉山) decided on Friday to investigate whether the subsidy system was being handled based on the principle of fair and reasonable allocation of public resources following suspicions that it had been affected by election politics.

The three Control Yuan members initiated the probe after both the ruling and opposition parties competed to raise farmers’ pensions in an apparent attempt to gain farmers’ support ahead of presidential and legislative elections scheduled to be held on Jan. 14.

The DPP proposed -increasing the subsidy from the existing NT$6,000 (US$200) to NT$7,000 a month, while some KMT lawmakers went as far as proposing a hike of NT$4,000 to NT$10,000 a month.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Tuesday proposed an increase of NT$316 to NT$6,316 a month, and said any raise should be systematically adjusted based on changes in the cost-of-living index, or the consumer price index, to prevent electoral politics and populism from interfering in the process.

Huang yesterday said the statute on farmers’ pensions was enacted by the Legislative Yuan and that any investigation into the matter would involve an infringement of the legislature’s power.

Lu said the Legislative Yuan had yet to begin debating the proposed pension hike and suggested that the Control Yuan avoid interfering in the matter.

In response, Control Yuan Secretary-General Chen Feng-yi (陳豐義) said the watchdog body would fully respect the authority of the legislature and conduct its investigation in a proper way. Meanwhile, in Changhua County yesterday, a group of farmers staged a protest, saying the Ma administration belittled farmers by proposing a mere increase of NT$316 to the farmers’ monthly subsidy.

Peng Chiu-lien (彭秋蓮), a 77 year-old farmer, said: “The proposed NT$316 is like an insult to farmers.”

Cheng Sun-yi (鄭森益), a 79 year-old farmer, also criticized the Council of Agriculture, saying it has failed to defend farmers’ interests when they are being bullied.

Additonal reporting by Yan Hung-chun

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