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June 27, 2017

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Chen limits some retirees' year-end bonuses

At a legislative interpellation yesterday, Premier Sean Chen announced that he has limited the year-end bonuses to retired civil servant recipients who match certain criteria — families of civil service or military personnel who were injured or died while on duty, or those who receive monthly retirement pensions below NT$20,000. Adjustments to the year-end bonuses of civil servant retirees will take effect next February, benefiting roughly 10,000 people.

"This would mostly exclude public schoolteachers since most of their retirement pensions exceed NT$2,500," the premier said. Chen also explained that the new retiree year-end bonus commissioned directly by the Executive Yuan would round up to roughly less than 10 percent of the original NT$20.2 billion budget.

Chen reiterated that the purpose of the year-end bonus established almost 40 years ago was to take care of civil servants once they retired. Yet, the dynamics of society have shifted, leading to the need for change in policies that were established four decades ago.

"After we did some in-depth investigation, there is still a minority group of civil servant retirees who are greatly disadvantaged and need government pensions." Since the year-end bonuses were a calculation of a proportion of the civil servants' salaries, some low-income retirees were in need of the subsidiaries.

When asked if the Cabinet had considered terminating the benefits, Chen responded that it was very unlikely. "Revisions of the year-end bonus plan are drafted to the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration (DGPA) every year. This year, we have asked them to make adjustments according to our decision," he said.

Lawmakers Laud Premier's Decision

Although some DPP lawmakers blamed the premier for the unbalanced usage of the nation's funds, lawmaker Wu Ping-jui (吳秉睿) explained that what the people expected from the government was a justified system that upheld fairness. "We would like to see a government that takes care of all the retirees of the working class and not just the civil servants," he said.

The nation's financial issues were hotly debated after Premier Sean Chen decided to postpone a minimum monthly wage hike, rousing fury over allegations that the government neglected the livelihoods of workers.

Chairman of the National Civil Servant Association Chen Chuan-ching (陳川青) said at an interview yesterday that the government's decision to cut costs by shaving benefits was "understandable." "We all agree," he said.

"I think it is appropriate for the Cabinet's decision to limit recipients to low-income retirees of civil servants."

He later added that the media and lawmakers should avoid marring the image of civil servants since they are all beholden to the legal system established by the government. "It is inappropriate to create social discord," he stated.

Government Lavishes Billions on Retirees

Accusations of the government abusing the national funds arose when opposition party lawmakers slammed the Cabinet for budgeting NT$20.2 billion to 445,708 retired military personnel, public school teachers and state-run company employees. Lawmakers lashed out at the Cabinet for "squandering" money on retirees who do not currently make direct contributions to society while spending taxpayer dollars.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers had proposed a draft bill to terminate the budget spending on year-end bonuses, which was voted down by the Kuomintang last week. The lawmakers were also unsatisfied with the Cabinet's massive spending on the retirement benefits for civil servants, which allowed many to deposit retirement pensions at an interest rate of 18 percent.

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