Pensions paid to veterans, civil servants and teachers are “outrageously high,” New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said yesterday, pledging his party’s support for any pension reform proposed by the incoming administration of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
“The pension situation has already reached the point where it is almost burning our eyebrows,” Huang said at a forum organized by the Chinese-language Business Today, which released a survey that found 85 percent of legislators support pension reform.
“Reform has to start immediately before the system goes bankrupt,” Huang said, adding that “outrageously high” benefits are being paid to veterans, civil servants and teachers, which reach as high as 90 percent of their regular salaries even though they usually retire in their 40s or early 50s.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
“When you look at that figure, it is clear why national pensions have run into such a big problem,” Huang said, calling for members “of all professions” to support pension reform.
Pensions vary based on profession, with benefits for government employees substantially higher on average than those awarded to people in other professions, Huang said.
Huang pledged his party’s “full support” for any pension reform plan proposed by the incoming administration, while urging caution in the design of the pension reform commission and national policy conference to which Tsai said she would entrust responsibility for drafting specific reforms.
“The pension reform commission issue is extremely complicated, with many problems that need to be addressed,” he said, adding that care has to be taken to ensure that special-interest representatives appointed to the commission are truly representative and that they would not drop out of the consultative process if it became clear that they would be affected by reforms.
National Taiwan University professor of social work Lin Wan-yi (林萬億), a key adviser to Tsai in pension policy, said that the incoming government would take specific policy stances on the issue only after the members of the proposed pension reform commission and national policy conference reach a consensus.
Lin did not say whether pension benefits for government employees would have to be cut.
“No one will be targeted for a ‘first stab,’ because we will not be holding knives,” he said.
Lin said that former Examination Yuan president John Kuan (關中), who was responsible for a failed reform effort by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, has told him that past reform efforts failed because inadequate communication and a top-down approach led to a lack of public trust.
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