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KMT, opposition sharply divided over Ma's annuity announcements

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kuomintang (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday praised President Ma Ying-jeou's efforts to launch pension reforms, while the opposition said that the administration had yet to reveal the basis of its calculations.

The president held a press conference on the administration's annuity reform strategies with Premier Sean Chen, Legislature Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Examination Yuan President Kuan Chung (關中), yesterday morning.

During the press conference, Ma said that he will forfeit his right to the 18-percent preferential interest rate reserved for government retirees; afterward, the Cabinet and Examination Yuan held their own press conferences, and said that the administration aims to gradually reduce the 18-percent interest rate by half.

KMT Legislator Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) echoed the president in saying that the challenges of the nation's pension funds go beyond partisan differences.

Although the reforms may prove to be unpopular with the public, Ma had the courage to step forward and do the right thing, which should be commended, Lin said.

The lawmaker went on to say that the Executive Yuan and the Examination Yuan had explained the direction of the administration's pension reform quite clearly, but that the actual draft amendments need to wait until the administration concludes a second phase of discussions with various sectors.

Gov't Writing Bad Checks: DPP

On the other hand, Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that the announcements made yesterday amounted to nothing but “bad checks” and that the entire matter was a “packaged scam.”

With regard to annuity reform, Ker said that the most important things are the state of the funds' finances as well as “transitional justice.”

The core issue at hand is how much money the funds can save by decreasing income replacement rates, Ker said.

The lawmaker went on to say that the administration had yet to provide specific calculations.

Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) and People First Party caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪) both said that the Cabinet did not communicate with them beforehand, and that it had yet to reveal the basis of its calculations.

Lee added that there are significant differences between laborers' insurance and civil servants' insurance, and that by lumping them together, the government has done little but cause public confusion.

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