Thu, Jan 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Ma vows to keep pensions afloat

‘DON’T WORRY’:Ma pledged to finalize pension reform plans by the end of the month to save the debt-ridden Labor Insurance Fund, and address youth unemployment

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou, left, who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, yesterday listens to Council of Labor Affairs Minister Pan Shih-wei at the KMT’s Central Standing Committee meeting at the party’s Taipei headquarters.

Photo: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised that the government would keep the Labor Insurance Fund from going bankrupt and called for more public understanding because the nation was facing difficult times.

Speaking about pension reform at a meeting of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee, Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, said the government would finalize pension reform plans by the end of this month to create a more sustainable system.

“The government will be the last support for the people. The public should not worry about [the fund going bankrupt], and we hope that people can give us more time and show more understanding during such difficult times,” he said.

The committee invited Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) to present a report on the challenges facing the domestic labor market and potential solutions.

Pan said the council had organized forums to explain the government’s pension reform plans to the public and learn more about workers’ concerns, adding that the government will continue communicating with workers to protect their rights.

The Labor Insurance Fund provides coverage for 9.81 million workers and has an estimated value of NT$530 billion (US$18.15 billion). However, the fund has accumulated hidden debts of more than NT$7.3 trillion and could go bankrupt by 2027, according to government estimates.

Ma yesterday said the government was also stepping up efforts to increase salary levels and create more jobs by facilitating the structural transformation of local industries and attracting more foreign investment.

The unemployment rate last year was 4.23 percent, which is lower than the 2008 level of 6.13 percent, he said. However, the unemployment rate among people aged 20 to 29 is higher than that of other age groups, he added.

The ministry will work to strengthen cooperation between schools and industries, and seek to strike a balance between talent supply and demand in various industries, he said.

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