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Wealthy retirees may miss yearly bonus

Most decision-making officials in the Cabinet are reportedly leaning toward excluding wealthy retired civil servants from receiving a year-end bonus.

According to reports, Premier Sean Chen held a special meeting prior to the Executive Yuan session Thursday and discussed the matter, with most officials agreeing to exclude the wealthy.

Deputy Executive Yuan Secretary-General Steven Chen (陳士魁) denied the claims, stating that the only consensus reached was that adjustments must be made and that related negotiations are ongoing.

“Only some officials agreed to exclude the wealthy,” he said. However, he did not explicitly define the meaning of "wealthy."

In response to opposition parties' demands that the government cancel the benefits immediately, Steven Chen explained that it would not be fair to older retirees whose pensions entitle them to NT$10,000 a month.

“(The amount) is insufficient to live on and we are obliged to take care of those retirees, too,” he said.

Premier Declares Review on Bonus Policy

Among vehement discussion of the NT$20.2 billion spent on the year-end bonuses supplemented to retired civil servants, Premier Chen said that as a policy with history stretching back 40 years, altering it would require detailed deliberation on various fronts.

“Talks with the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration (DGPA) have begun,” Premier Chen said. Retirement regulations concerning civil servants are administered under the DGPA.

According to the DGPA, a retired civil servant is eligible to receive a year-end bonus — equivalent to a retiree's 1 1/2 monthly salary — in addition to a monthly pension.

When asked if the government plans on cutting the “bonuses,” Chen responded that the system was established out of “solicitude” and should be reviewed with that in mind.

”This must be analyzed carefully from every perspective,” he said.

Controversy over the legal basis of the year-end bonus erupted Tuesday when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) alleged that the benefit was issued directly from the Cabinet rather than based on any law or administrative order.

Kuan claimed that this year “445,708 military personnel, public school teachers and state-run company employees are receiving while the government sits on financial difficulties that burden tax-payers.”

KMT Deny Terminating Benefits

Opposition parties yesterday proposed a bill in a Yuan Sitting to force the Cabinet to cancel the year-end benefits. The move was voted down by the majority-holding Kuomintang.

Joint DPP, People First Party (PFP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislators gathered at the assembly during the voting session shouting “Money for retiree bonus, no money for labor.”

KMT lawmakers lashed back, saying, “Don't create social discord.”

Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) stated the DPP's bill proposing the termination of the bonus was based on rash decision-making and hence the KMT could not follow.

“We cannot make such irrational decisions before even understanding the scope of the retired civil servants' living conditions,” he said.

While the proposal from DPP was killed off by the KMT, some ruling party members agreed that the bonus system needs revision.

The KMT's draft revisions of the bonus policy were passed later in the sitting.

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Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers, right, raise placards reading “Labor protected, Taiwan protected” next to opposition party members with placards and posters criticizing the ruling party, in Taipei, yesterday. The opposition accused the KMT of exploiting laborers, while lawmakers from the ruling party accused the opposition of creating social discord. (CNA)

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