Retirement age proposals' schedule must be accelerated
The China Post news staffPresident Ma Ying-jeou's pension reform plans for civil servants as well as private sector workers has the nation transfixed. The issue cuts across just about every social divide and concerns the savings, retirement and welfare of citizens. Details of the plan that have been published in the media are encouraging in the concreteness of proposals, especially with regard to raising the retirement age. However, the current reform implementation schedule is too slow.
January 30, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) on Friday blasted the materializing retirement age extension plans to be proposed as part of a comprehensive pension reform package this week by the president. He blasted the pension reforms that are gradually coming into focus, saying that the government putting off the implementation of the critical retirement age indicates its lack of will.
The retirement age system operates according to sum years — the result of adding the number of years in service by the age of the participant, yielding the age at which one becomes eligible for pensions. Prior to the current proposals, the system was already undergoing reform to raise the sum age of civil servants from 75 to 85. This means that whereas a person may have been able to retire by the age of 50 after working 25 years, they had to work to 55 and have 30 years on the job or work to 60 and have 25 years.
Starting from 2011, the sum age started to be raised one per year, with the current legal target of 85 set to be realized at 2021. In the new wave of proposals, that critical threshold is set to be raised to 90, but not until 2026. Ministry of Civil Service chief Chang Che-tan (張哲琛) has confirmed the number 90, media reports indicated on Saturday.
The caveat of the rise to age 90, however, is that it is still possible to arrive at the target via more than one route. A civil servant can work 30 years and retire at age 60, or work 25 years and retire at age 65. This is where rift between groups can occur. The DPP's Chen hammered home the issue by asking why it is that new reforms make those under labor insurance work until age 65 when their reforms are also completed in 2026, but those in the public service get to have choices regarding the path they take to reach retirement.
Chen has a point. Accelerating the current schedule of reforms is necessary because the current gradation of rising eligibility ages is too concerned about the smoothness of its implementation and its impact on affected persons, at the cost of drawing out the pace of reform to over a decade. Furthermore, the real “fruits” of reform technically begin only after the original 85 sum has been implemented year after year.