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Chen says bonus cut may be valid only for one year

By Enru Lin--The Cabinet's recommendation to cancel year-end bonuses for retired state personnel is valid for the upcoming fiscal year only, Premier Sean Chen said yesterday.

Last Tuesday, Chen said that the Executive Yuan has terminated the year-end bonus for most retired teachers, military officers and civil servants.

The decision has been widely lauded by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, some of whom perceived the change as permanent. Not so, according to the premier.

“Is it possible that in the year after this the number of recipients can expand again to 420,000 and everybody gets a bonus again?” asked DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) on the plenary floor yesterday.

“We establish points that require attention (注意事項) every year,” Chen responded on the plenary floor.

“This practice has been followed for years; Every year, we establish points for attention. This year when we were establishing points for attention, we considered the country's economic state, so we only stipulated two categories of retired personnel as recipients. We did not account for anyone else in the budget,” Chen said later to another DPP lawmaker, Yao Wen-chih (姚文智).

Both DPP legislators pressed for Chen to clearly state the future of the year-end bonus, but he demurred.

“Will the bonus be distributed again the following fiscal year?” asked Chiu.

“I cannot tell you now whether the bonus will go out the following year. If I were able to tell you something that happens the following year or the year after that, then I would also be able to set a rule that applies for posterity,” said Chen.

Chiu charged Chen and his Cabinet with orchestrating a “sham reform.”

“This issue (of the year-end bonus) isn't a question of how Taiwan is doing year by year. It's an issue that does not abide by the principle of social equality. It's something that requires immediate reform,” said Chiu.

“Terminate it in one move. You can't even do that. No wonder the people feel helpless,” he said.

Executive Yuan Secretary-General Steven Chen (陳士魁) had told Kuomintang lawmakers the day before that more year-end bonuses will be distributed in upcoming years if Taiwan's economy fares well. Steven Chen also said that this fiscal year's cuts are not yet final, but are pending approval in the Legislative Yuan.

“As for how much bonus will actually go out, that's still up to the Legislative Yuan. If the Legislative Yuan gives us more in the budget, then we will give more,” he said to pan-blue lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee (內政委員會) on Monday.

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