Sat, Apr 30, 2016 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Pension reform process to be transparent

Vice president-elect Chen Chien-jen said in a recent interview with Chinese-language ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Tzou Jiing-wen that he would immediately convene the national insurance fund reform committee after he is sworn into office on May 20, with a promise to deliver a draft amendment to the Legislative Yuan within the year

Vice president-elect Chen Chien-jen gestures during an interview in Taipei on April 19.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): What are your opinions on the national pension reform?

Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁): The current system is overly complicated. Not only are there different government agencies handling the same affairs, but the discrepancy of rates for different vocations are also too great. Above all, potential liabilities for all the different national pensions are at an alarmingly high level.

According to estimates, funding for military personnel’s, civil servants’ and teachers’ insurance will become insolvent in the next several years. Recent polls also show that a high percentage — 70 to 80 percent — of the public supports financial reforms and it is high time for the government to act. After all, compared with the past, the situation has become much more urgent.

Taiwan has entered a new democratic age where the public wishes to have more say in how the government does things and we hope to arrange a series of open debates as quickly as possible — hopefully within the year — to address the issue.

The reforms are inevitably a cross-yuan effort, affecting many different departments and bureaus of the Executive Yuan, the Examination Yuan’s Ministry of Civil Service and the Legislative Yuan, to name a few.

In light of the amount of departments involved, we have decided to have the Presidential Office facilitate cross-departmental negotiations, as well as chair the national affairs forums in the future.

LT: How will you push for pension reform? What is the time frame and what methods are you thinking of using? Can you tell us your preliminary plans?

Chen: Compared with the nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — especially in the areas of civil servants and education — Taiwan has a higher income replacement ratio. Therefore, when the nation faces financial difficulties, we would require reasonable reforms.

While these reforms should ensure that every Taiwanese would be able to receive a basic sum enabling them to have a dignified life in their old age, it must also consider the concept of intergenerational equity along with fairness in society and care for disadvantaged people.

The process of these reforms would need well-thought-out methods to include civic participation and debate if it is to achieve its goals.

Under the circumstances, it is necessary to make new estimates, comparisons and calculations for pension funds for different vocations. In the coming years, we will be offering a set of equations that would hopefully address different situations.

To fully include the opinions of people from all walks of life, the national pension reform committee, with me as the chair, will include military personnel, civil servants, teachers, workers, farmers, fishermen, women and young people. It will include working people as well as retired people, and government representatives and employers.

We estimate that the committee would have more than 30 members. At the latest, the committee would be holding its first meeting the week after president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is sworn into office, followed by weekly meetings.

The reform process must be open and transparent if it is to facilitate a consensus and have open communication channels. Transparency must extend to debates on different retirement and insurance systems; the maximum amount of wages at the time of insurance; the income replacement ratio; insurance premiums; and the age when a person becomes eligible to receive pension are all information that should be made available.

This story has been viewed 2888 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top