Ma calls for greater party unity, defends pensions proposals

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Feb 07, 2013 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for a serious and tolerant discussion on the issue of pension reform in the wake of the government’s recent presentation of its pension reform plans, and said that all political parties must face the issue, dismissing the opposition camp’s criticism of the plans.

“The government hopes that its pension reform plans will make the nation’s financial system healthier and more practical. It would be much harder to start the process of reform later as the nation would suffer further deficits in the future,” he said yesterday at Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters.

Ma made the comments at a meeting of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee as it invited Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉), Directorate-General of Personnel Administration Minister Frank Huang (黃富源) and Minister of Civil Service Chang Che-shen (張哲琛) to present reports on the pension reform plans.

The Ma administration announced its pension reform plans on Wednesday last week, including the adoption of a “rule of 90” system for civil servants in 2016 and reductions to the contentious preferential 18 percent interest rate on savings accounts held by retired civil servants, which will be lowered to 9 percent within the next four to five years.

Ma said that the proposals, while not perfect, would protect the nation’s pension system from going bankrupt for the next 30 years, and said that his administration would strengthen its communication with the legislative branch as it prepares to send the draft bill for approval in April.

“The pension reform issue is a problem that everyone and every political party must face, and every party should explain its stance on the issue and its reform proposals,” he said.

Ma, who also serves as KMT chairman, also took the opportunity yesterday to call for party unity ahead of the KMT chairperson elections and the elections of Central Standing Committee members and Central Committee members.

Amid recent opposition from some party members to his bid for re-election as KMT chairman this year, Ma said that the KMT should work harder to promote its policies and consolidate support at the grassroots level, and promised to hold more meetings with party delegates in all local branches to strengthen communication within the party.