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MND giving 'extra bonus' to ex-generals

The Defense Ministry has allocated almost NT$35 million annually since 2000 to give more than 2,900 retired generals an extra bonus on top of the year-end benefits enjoyed by all government retirees.

The number of retired generals entitled to the extra bonus soared to 2,908 after 2009, when only 366 retirees were given such benefits, which amounted to only NT$7.72 million, according to the latest figures from the Legislature's budget center.

The revelation comes amid controversies over year-end bonuses for retired civil servants. The Legislature on Friday blocked an attempt by opposition lawmakers to scrap annual bonuses for retired civil servants, teachers and military personnel to ease the country's financial troubles.

The Legislature has asked the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to provide details about the bonuses of retired generals, but the military refused, citing confidentiality, the United Evening News reported.

But a military spokesman, Chung Shao-ho, did say that year-end bonuses have been given to retired generals since 1983 as a demonstration of presidents' recognition of their contribution to the country.

The Legislature's budget center noted that retired generals, like all other government retirees, receive an annual bonus from the Cabinet.

The center said that for 2013, the ministry has budgeted NT$34.31 million for the bonus, with each of the qualified retired generals receiving about NT$12,000.

The United Evening News said President Ma Ying-jeou slashed the amount of Cabinet bonuses for retired generals after taking office. Ma thought that the retired generals had been receiving much more than other retirees, which had been unfair, the paper said.

Meanwhile, Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), urged the Cabinet to end the year-end bonuses for government retirees, a practice that he described as a violation of the principles of fairness and justice.

But he maintained that the Cabinet must make the decision for all levels of government, rather than let local administrations decide themselves.

Some lawmakers from the main opposition party have suggested that DPP-controlled local governments stop allocating bonus budgets for civil servants under their administrations.

“There must be a unified practice for the entire nation,” said Su during a charity event in response to the DPP lawmakers' call. “It isn't a race to see who does it first.”

Su said it is unfair to set aside more than NT$20 billion for government retirees' bonuses, particularly when the labor insurance program faces the high possibility of bankruptcy.

Former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen did not talk to the press during a separate event yesterday, saying she was in a hurry.

But Su Jia-chyuan, her running mate in the 2012 presidential election, echoed the incumbent DPP chairman's remarks that the central government must make the decision instead of asking local administrators to do it.

He said the Ma administration must make a quick move, defusing the conflicts between laborers on one side and governments employees on the other.

DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien said it is the Cabinet's responsibility, rather than the local governments'.

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