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Year-end bonus won't be changed this year: official

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Control Yuan is weighing the possibility of impeaching Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang for allowing state-run enterprises to hand out envious year-end bonuses to their employees despite making losses.

Control Yuan member Ger Yeong-kuang said yesterday that back in September, his organization censured the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and state-run utility Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), which set aside a budget to dole out sizable bonuses despite making losses. The MOEA has oversight on Taiwan's state-run firms.

Ger said that because Taipower has apparently ignored the censure, he will ask the MOEA officials to brief Control Yuan members in January on why corrective actions were not taken and how the problem will be dealt with in the future.

If the situation is not improved immediately, an impeachment case will then be filed against Shih and other officials, he said.

The Control Yuan is the branch of Taiwan's government that ferrets out improper or illicit behavior by public agencies and officials.

Ger's remarks came amid public outrage over handsome bonuses issued to employees by state-run firms that were losing money.

Despite losing NT$32.4 billion in 2011, state-run oil company CPC Corp. will pay employees a year-end bonus of up to 4.6 months, according to the MOEA.

Taipower, which ran a deficit of NT$43.3 billion in 2011, will distribute bonuses of as high as 3.65 months, and staff at Taiwan Water Corp. and Taiwan Sugar Corp. will receive up to 3.46 and 3.31 months of their respective salaries.

In spite of the public anger, it seems at this stage state-run firms have no plans to cancel or cut down the bonuses they will distribute.

Lawmakers Demand Reform

Kuomintang lawmaker Liao Kuo-tung, a member of the Legislative Yuan's Economic Affairs Committee, said his committee hasn't had time to review the budgets for state firms' year-end bonuses and the review will not be finished until at least the end of the Chinese New Year.

“This means, state firms will pay out the money in advanced before we have any chance to review it,” he said. “That makes a reduction in year-end bonuses a little difficult.”

The situation however does not mean that further reform is not needed, he said. “I do not rule out the possibility of proposing a bill to trim state-run firms' budgets for 2013,” Liao said.

Another KMT lawmaker, Lin Min-tsang, mentioned that there must be law that regulates the standards by which bonuses are issued. “We cannot allow state-run firms to evade legislative oversight and make up things for which remunerations are given,” he said.

Also yesterday, the United Evening News cited an unidentified Executive Yuan official as saying the government will keep its bonus-pay scheme unchanged this year. Any changes to the scheme will have to wait until next year, he said.

He said the government is still evaluating the performance and merit of employees at state firms from last year, using a more stringent evaluation method than is required.

“At this point we have no plans to change the evaluation method and the bonus payment scheme,” the official said.

He also defended the performances of state firm employees, saying losses resulting from government-made policies aren't their fault.

For example, the government's action to freeze price increases for gasoline and electricity last year played a major role in the losses at CPC Corp. and Taipower, and employees at those firms should not be punished for that, he said.

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