Sat, Jan 21, 2017 - Page 3 News List

VP clarifies labor insurance hike

Staff writer, with CNA

Vice President Chen Chien-jen, who heads the Presidential Office’s Pension Reform Committee, speaks at a news conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday held in response to media reports about a draft proposal to reform the pension system that was released on Thursday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

A draft proposal to reform the pension system seeks to incrementally increase the labor insurance premium from 9.5 percent to 18 percent over a 10-year period, rather than doing so in one step, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday.

Chen was speaking at a news conference in Taipei held to respond to what Chen called misleading media reports about the proposal, which was released on Thursday.

Under the proposal, the labor insurance premium is to be raised by 0.5 percentage points every year starting next year, said Chen, who heads the Presidential Office’s Pension Reform Committee.

The government would then review the results in 2023 and if they are deemed unsatisfactory, the premium would be raised by 1 percentage point every year until it reaches 18 percent, he said.

There is no plan to change the existing system in which employees, the government and employers contribute 20 percent, 10 percent and 70 percent respectively to the premium, he said, dismissing as untrue a report that said employees and employers would each contribute 50 percent of the premium.

For workers whose insured salary is NT$30,000 (US$951), raising the premium rate by 0.5 percentage points a year would mean an increase of NT$30 per month in their share of the labor insurance premium, he said.

The proposal would increase employers’ contributions by NT$9.5 billion per year, rather than the NT$50 billion some media outlets reported, Chen said.

In addition to raising the labor insurance premium, other key reforms laid out in the proposal include ending the preferential 18 percent interest rate on pension deposits for public-sector employees within six years and incrementally lowering the replacement rate of public-sector pensions to 60 percent.

The proposal is to be presented at a national conference on pension reform at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei tomorrow.

Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億), who serves as deputy convener on the Pension Reform Committee, said that the preferential 18 percent interest rate was originally introduced to ensure low-paid public-sector employees were financially sound in retirement, but because the salaries of public-sector employees were raised during the 1980s, it is now necessary to eliminate the preferential interest rate in order to create a more rational pension system.

The adjustment to the labor insurance premium is needed to narrow the huge fiscal shortfall in the pension program and prevent it from going bankrupt, which is expected to occur in 2027 or earlier, Lin said.

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