As pension reform proposals are in the final stage of legislative review, draft provisions of the eligibility for death benefits and survivor benefits of civil servants received their second reading yesterday at a review marked by lengthy speeches by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers.
A plenary legislative session reviewed dozens of clauses — 36 as of yesterday, with a total of 79 clauses to be reviewed — of a draft act on civil servant pensions, despite the KMT caucus continuing to stall proceedings. Reviews were still continuing at press time last night.
Lawmakers passed the second reading of draft provisions to tighten the qualifications for the survivor benefit, which would allow the spouse of a deceased civil servant to receive half the monthly pension paid to the civil servant if the spouse is aged 55 or older, and has been married to the civil servant for at least 10 years.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
Spouses of deceased civil servants can qualify for a survivor benefit if they are aged 55 or older and had been married to the deceased for at least two years. The raising of benefit eligibility is to prevent people from marrying aging retirees for financial reasons.
Underage children of a deceased civil servant would be able to receive the survivor benefit until they turn 20, while children with mental or physical illnesses who are incapacitated and cannot work can receive the survivor benefit for life, the draft provisions say.
However, surviving family members who have received other pension benefits would only receive one type of pension benefit, according to the draft provisions.
The KMT criticized the proposed ban on receiving double pensions as discrimination against couples who are both public employees.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said the survivor benefit is designed for the welfare of underprivileged people rather than as an extra income for financially stable pensioners.
Another set of provisions that would allow the family of a deceased civil servant who committed suicide to receive the death benefit also passed its second reading.
The death benefit is payable only when the suicide is committed for health, financial or family reasons, but not when the deceased are thought to have killed themselves because of a criminal conviction.
The death benefit is only payable when a civil servant is killed in the line of duty or dies of illness or accident, and the new legislation is to include suicide as a legitimate cause of death for compensation.
Death by suicide causes tremendous pain to surviving family members and therefore they should be entitled to the death benefit, Yu said.
The KMT criticized the DPP caucus for approving provisions that are at odds with the proposals made by Presidential Offices’ Pension Reform Committee and the Examination Yuan, while the KMT called for the diversion of the NT$882.49 billion (US$29.09 billion) Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program budget to pension funds.
The KMT also urged the discussion of a basic pension scheme to supplement occupational pensions and ensure a basic living standard for all retirees.
The DPP caucus sought to have the draft act pass the third reading yesterday to proceed with the review of other two draft acts on public-school teacher pensions and political appointees’ retirement benefits, before reviewing the proposed infrastructure plan bill.
However, the DPP caucus has decided to move the review of the infrastructure plan ahead to address the issues surrounding the program.
SELF-RELIANCE: Taiwan would struggle to receive aid in the event of an invasion, so it must prepare to ‘hold its own’ for the first 70 days of a war, a defense expert said Taiwan should strengthen infrastructure, stock up on reserves and step up efforts to encourage Taiwanese to fight against an enemy, legislators and experts said on Tuesday last week. The comments sought to summarize what the nation should learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has exceeded 300 days, since Feb. 24 last year. Institute of National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said that the war in Ukraine highlighted the importance of being ready for war. Taiwan’s development of an “asymmetrical warfare” doctrine and extending mandatory conscription to one year is a good start to preparation of defense against a
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday said it would delay the lifting of the indoor mask mandate, citing public health considerations and ongoing discussions on how the policy should be implemented. Earlier this week, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said officials from several ministries were working on the policy and an announcement would be made yesterday. However, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC, yesterday said that the policy was still under review. Wang said its implementation would be “delayed slightly” due to three main factors. First, the center
END OF SERIES: As the first generation of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are set to expire, the CECC would no longer offer them to children younger than four years old The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of a person infected with the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2. The Taiwanese man in his 20s arrived from Canada on Jan. 22, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), who is deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division. He tested positive after reporting having a runny nose and muscle soreness while in airport quarantine, Lo said. The XBB.1.5 subvariant is the dominant strain in the US, but there is no evidence to suggest that it causes more severe illness than other Omicron subvariants, he said,
NORMALIZING TIES: The delegation led by the KMT’s Johnny Chiang is to meet with British lawmakers, think tanks and business groups to discuss developments A legislative delegation led by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) arrived in the UK yesterday to rally support for Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Chiang heads the Legislative Yuan’s Taiwan-UK Interparliamentary Amity Association. The delegation also includes KMT legislators Ma Wen-chun (馬文君), Wen Yu-hsia (溫玉霞), Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), Sandy Yu (游毓蘭) and Wu I-ding (吳怡玎). The group is to meet with British lawmakers Alicia Kearns, who chairs the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the House Defence Select Committee; and Bob Stewart, who cochairs the