President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to protect the dignity of government employees, public school teachers and military personnel, but also urged them show more understanding of the challenges the nation is facing amid rising calls for a reform of government pensions.
Meeting with a group of veterans at the Presidential Office, Ma defended the Cabinet’s move to slash year-end bonuses for government retirees as part of the administration’s efforts to address the financial crisis and sluggish economic recovery, adding that the government would continue to take care of the group.
“We hope all government employees, [public] school teachers and military personnel will join us in overcoming these difficulties. The government will defend the dignity of the group and strive for reasonable treatment for all of you. This is a responsibility that we cannot shirk,” he said.
Premier Sean Chen announced on Oct. 19 that year-end bonuses will be distributed only to two groups of people — retirees or the families of deceased retirees who receive a monthly pension of less than NT$20,000, and the families of those who were killed, injured or disabled in war or during a military exercise.
Chen added on Tuesday that the revised measure was subject to a yearly review.
About 10,000 people would qualify for the bonus, which, based on rough estimates, would cost the government less than 10 percent of the original budget of NT$20.2 billion (US$690 million).
Ma lauded the contributions of veterans to the country and said the revised measure would not affect the government’s effort to take care of them.
“The overall environment has changed since then and it is appropriate to review the plan and make the necessary adjustments now. The change will help resolve [public] misunderstanding of the group and make sure that the contributions of these people are not underestimated,” the president said.