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September 25, 2017

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Ma to unveil civil servant pension reform Tuesday

TAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou is scheduled to unveil a comprehensive pension reform plan for civil servants Tuesday, the ruling Kuomintang legislative caucus said yesterday.

In a briefing to the president Saturday, the Cabinet and Examination Yuan agreed to raise the retirement age and lower the controversial 18-percent interest rate on special savings by civil servants, said KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih.

Vice Premier Jiang Yi-hua and Civil Service Minister Chang Che-shen, who proposed the retirement and reform plans, will be invited to brief to lawmakers today, Lin said.

The KMT caucus will then submit a draft bill to the Legislature for further review in the next session, Lin said.

The main problem is that civil servants do not know much about the government's plan because they have not been part of the discussions, said KMT legislator Su Ching chuan.

As a result, the reform has to be undertaken in a way that would help government employees understand the changes in work conditions, benefits and duties, he said.

Legislator Chen Shei-saint, also of the KMT, urged the government to communicate with public servants before changing their "job contracts."

Li Lai-hsi, chairman of the Council of Labor Affairs' Civil Servant Association, said the reform is misguided as it only prescribes changes in the terms of employment for public servants and other workers and excludes government and business owners.

In order to ease the country's financial burden and tackle the economic downturn, Taiwan's government plans to complete the reform and revise the relevant law by April before talking with experts and representatives from national associations, according to the Presidential Office.

As part of the reforms, a "rule of 90" retirement plan will take effect in 2026, according to officials from the Examination Yuan.

Under the plan, a civil servant will qualify for retirement when his age and years in service add up to 90, they said. For example, a civil servant who has reached the age of 65 and has been working for 25 years will be eligible to retire.

However, the new regulation will make distinctions among public servants in different sectors, the officials said, adding that the rule of 90 is unlikely to apply to military personnel or professionals in the field of education.

Currently, civil servants become eligible for retirement if their age and years of service add up to 85.

It is believed that by raising the retirement age, the government can save money by avoiding having to hire new staff and delaying the payment of retirement benefits.

Under the reform plan, the retirement income for civil servants will also be reduced from 90 percent, which is higher than in most countries, to 80 percent, of the preretirement income, the officials said.

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