Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet report eyes public sector raises

‘PSEUDO-SCIENCE’:President Ma Ying-jeou’s administration increased public sector wages by 3 percent in 2011, with critics saying the move was aimed at buying votes

By Chung Li-hua, Chen Yu-hsuan and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Public sector wages and pensions are expected to get a 3 percent raise to bring them in line with average increases in the private sector, which have risen by an average of 3 percent over the past three years, according to a report published by the Executive Yuan.

Legislators and academics described the move as a “vote-buying policy.”

If implemented, the pay raise would benefit about 620,000 military personnel, civil servants and public schoolteachers, as well as the pensions of 260,000 retirees, at an estimated cost of more than NT$21 billion (US$676.1 million), according to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

The agency said it would cost about NT$7 billion to raise public sector wages for current workers by 1 percent, excluding a corresponding retirement pension adjustment.

Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) hinted at the pay increase in March, saying: “Private employees have had pay raises; public sector workers should also get pay raises.”

At a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei in March, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) suggested that a 3 percent public sector pay increase to Mao, who said the issue would be finalized when the Executive Yuan draws up next year’s budget plan next month and in August.

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration raised public sector wages by 3 percent in 2011, in a move that observers said was intended to curry favor with public workers before the presidential and legislative elections in 2012.

Coordinated by Vice Premier Simon Chang (張善政), the Executive Yuan report was conducted by the Ministry of Finance using big data analytics to examine the income tax declarations of more than 5 million employees nationwide, the Executive Yuan said.

Mao is to be briefed with the report next week, Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said, adding that the Cabinet has not yet discussed or finalized the proposed raise.

The Directorate-General of Personnel Administration said it has convened three meetings on salaries for public workers and is set to put forward a proposal to the Cabinet next month.

Liao on Friday said that he hopes the Executive Yuan raises public sector wages to set an example for private employers.

Raising public wages is tantamount to vote-buying, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said, adding that and the public could not accept the KMT using public resources to court public sector employees.

With the National Development Council downgrading its economic monitoring indicators from “yellowish-blue” to “blue” in April, suggesting an economic slowdown in the second half of the year, why should public workers should get a pay raise under such a circumstance, Huang asked.

Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology finance professor Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗) said that the Executive Yuan’s report was a tactical move to decorate a predetermined policy with “pseudo-science” by referring to “big data analytics.”

The public sector wage raise has recurrently been played up before large elections, making it a vote-buying policy in disguise, he said.

Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development, said the data analyzed by the Executive Yuan could not reflect whether an employee is holding concurrent jobs, making the Executive Yuan’s analysis debatable.

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