Thu, May 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers make progress on pension plan

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang, right, quarrels with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday during a review of a draft bill on public servants’ pensions.

Photo: CNA

Lawmakers across party lines made progress at yesterday’s committee review of draft acts to reform the civil servants’ pension plan, but the session degenerated into a shouting match in the afternoon before picking up again in the evening.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee’s co-covenor, presided over an article-by-article review of the pension reform plans.

The process went according to legislative procedure in the morning and early afternoon, with members of the DPP, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the New Power Party (NPP) and the People First Party (PFP) taking turns to deliberate on the amendments, present their viewpoints and seek clarifications from representatives of several ministries.

It was a continuation of the review proposed by the Examination Yuan on a number of clauses, with lawmakers and parties putting forward proposals for the base figure to calculate the income replacement rate, minimum pensions, pension contribution rates, parental benefits and government responsibility for payments.

There were differences of opinions over Article 27, which is to describe the base income replacement rate.

The Examination Yuan proposed a 10-year period prior to retirement from which to determine the rate, with a five-year transitional period, which has the support of the KMT.

However, Tuan and the DPP proposed a 15-year period prior to retirement, with a 10-year transitional period; the NPP also proposed a 15-year period, during which time a civil servant earned the highest salary; and the PFP proposed a 10-year period prior to retirement.

Tuan sought a motion to vote on the various proposals, with the legislators called on to cast their votes at just after 4pm.

Several KMT lawmakers led by William Tseng (曾銘宗) and Sra Kacaw (鄭天財) charged the podium in an apparent attempt to seize the microphone from Tuan to prevent him from calling for the vote, in a replay of events that had disrupted the committee’s meeting on Monday.

KMT members surrounded the podium, using the microphones to bicker with DPP members.

Eventually Tuan passed the motion to vote, and as the DPP has a slight majority in the committee, the proposal for a rate based on a 15-year period prior to retirement was passed.

After Tuan called for an intermission, the meeting resumed at 5:30pm, and the article-by-article review proceeded.

A prolonged debate over a proposal to do away with an 18 percent preferential interest rate for retired civil servants — which DPP lawmakers have said has been a drain on the national treasury and is unfair to farmers and workers, as they have shouldered NT$82.3 billion (US$2.74 billion) in payments to civil servants per year.

DPP lawmakers supported the move to phase out the 18 percent preferential interest rate for retired civil servants over a period of six years, while KMT members argued for a longer phase-out period, or to retain the rate.

As of press time last night, debate over the preferential rate was ongoing, while discussions over the income replacement rate had not begun.

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