A plan to cancel an education subsidy for children of retired military personnel who ranked lieutenant colonel or above has been suspended following protests by a military body, with lawmakers criticizing the policy reversal.
The Directorate-General of Personnel Administration on Monday announced that from Aug. 1, the children of civil servants and public-school teachers who receive pensions of more than NT$25,000 (US$817) per month and retired military personnel who ranked lieutenant colonel or above would no longer receive the subsidy.
The measure is part of efforts to reform the public employee pension system, with the government estimated to save about NT$1.1 billion per year from the cut.
However, following negotiation between the administration and the Veterans Affairs Council, it was announced on Wednesday that the policy would be suspended for military personnel, prompting criticism from lawmakers across party lines.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said the council was aiming to provide for people who enjoy the best retirement benefits.
The policy, which would still allow the children of lower-ranking officers to receive the subsidy, was approved by Premier Lin Chuan (林全), but overturned by the council almost overnight, he said.
“The policy reversal favors retired colonels and generals, who have the best retirement benefits,” Tuan said. “It appears that Veteran Affairs Council Minister Lee Hsiang-jow (李翔宙) is more powerful than the premier.”
New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said there is no legal provision authorizing the subsidy, but the government has spent more then NT$1 billion per year to fund the education of retired public employees’ children.
There is no reasonable justification for allowing the children of higher-ranking officers to continue receiving the subsidy, he said.
“The policy flip-flop clearly shows the government’s lack of integrity and double standards, which damage its reputation,” Hsu said.
“The administration is urged to explain the policy reversal, or it will only compromise the integrity of Lin’s Cabinet,” he added.
Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said the suspension of the policy was due to a disagreement between ministries, adding that a minister without portfolio has been asked to reconcile the differences within two weeks to ensure the policy’s implementation before the beginning of the next school semester.
Whether the policy is to be implemented across the board, or if a special allowance would be made for military personnel, has yet to be decided, he added.
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