Fri, Jun 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Party caucuses fail to agree on pension reform bills

REPEATED REQUEST:Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan again asked KMT lawmakers to consolidate different versions of a bill on civil servants’ pensions and tender one draft

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The majority of draft pension reform bills were set aside yesterday for further discussion after party caucuses failed to reach a consensus at the first meeting of the extraordinary legislative session.

The Legislative Yuan held cross-caucus negotiations to review proposals for an act governing civil servants’ retirement and pensions.

Draft articles slashing the 18 percent preferential interest rate for savings accounts, available to civil servants hired before 1995; how a lower limit for public servants’ pensions should be set; whether taking childcare leave should affect public servants’ seniority; and whether civil servants should be allowed to work in the public sector after they retire sparked differences of opinion among legislators.

The lawmakers resolved that a New Power Party (NPP) motion to adjust the allocation rate for civil servants — the proportion of civil servants’ salaries to be used to fund their pensions in accordance with the financial state of the civil pension system — would require a second read.

The proposal says that the proportion of civil servants’ salaries to be paid to the Ministry of Civil Service should be reviewed.

Every three years, the ministry would set an “optimal” value on how much civil servants should pay the government to keep the pension system afloat, it says.

Should the optimal value reach 1.5 times the current level they are required to pay, the allocation rate should be increased by 1 percentage point within three months, it says.

For example, if the ministry determines that the optimal value is 18 percent, or 1.5 times the 12 percent allocation rate public servants are subject to, it should be raised to at least 13 percent, the proposal said.

Meanwhile, attempts to set a minimum on the size of civil servants’ pensions failed.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and the Examination Yuan proposed to set the minimum at NT$32,160 — the lowest monthly pay public servants would receive — with Ko proposing a lower limit of NT$40,200 for retired civil servants with disabilities requiring a caregiver.

The NPP proposed setting the minimum at NT$20,200, which government statistics indicated would be the average amount people need to support themselves.

KMT Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) apparently misinterpreted Constitutional Interpretation No. 280, saying that NT$32,160 would be “too low” in 10 to 20 years, as the cost of living is expected to increase.

Tseng said that the interpretation was issued in 1992, meaning that the minimum monthly salary for public servants was calculated 25 years ago and is no longer a reliable reference for calculating pensions.

Minister of Civil Service Chou Hung-hsien (周弘憲) said that the value was determined based on what public servants are paid today.

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said that the proposal required further discussion.

Su asked KMT lawmakers to consolidate different versions of the bill and tender one draft as a caucus, the same request he made two weeks ago.

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