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September 19, 2017

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Cuts to year-end bonuses not final: Executive Yuan

The Executive Yuan said yesterday that cuts to the annual bonuses of retired state employees have not been finalized and may see adjustments.

Premier Sean Chen said last Tuesday that the Executive Yuan expects to cut the year-end bonus for most retired teachers, military officers and civil servants.

Secretary-General Steven Chen (陳士魁) yesterday faced criticism over the cuts at the Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee (內政委員會).

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) told Chen that since Tuesday, she has received a deluge of calls from retired personnel, who said they have been caught off guard.

"One said, 'Legislator Yang, I am already 70 years old. I get NT$22,000 a month, are you sure this means the bonus is gone? My household is not just me — it's also my wife, and we are both sick. For New Years, the bonus is all we have," she said.

KMT Legislator Chiu Wen-yen (邱文彥) said that instead of only announcing the cuts during interpellation, the Executive Yuan should communicate with the "deeply unhappy" retirees directly.

"There has been no explanation, no 'We are sorry, we have no other way. The nation's predicament is dire. Let's work together.' So to the public, the news has been abrupt and unclear."

Steven Chen responded that the cuts are only an Executive Yuan recommendation in its annual budget, which is pending review in the Legislative Yuan.

"We have not spoken much to the public out of respect to the Legislative Yuan, where the budget is pending review," he said.

"This year it was very hard for us to set the budget — we weighed the state of the economy and asked if we should give out so much. Internally, we created a recommendation," he said.

Steven Chen stressed that final say on the cuts belongs to lawmakers.

"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. What the recommendation stipulates is the least that we are willing to accept," he said.

Last Tuesday, the premier told lawmakers that two categories of retired personnel will remain eligible for the bonus: retirees on monthly pensions of less than NT$20,000, as well as military officers or dependents of officers who were injured or killed in the line of duty.

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