Taiwan opposition and government spar over pension reform

Government plan pushes workers to the brink: DPP

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah and Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang exchanged attacks Thursday about whose pension reform plan was more damaging to workers.
President Ma Ying-jeou and Su separately presented pension projects Wednesday. The government plan includes 23 consecutive years of labor insurance premiums for workers until payments reach the level of 19 percent, while the DPP sees a maximum of 16.25 percent within 30 years.
Any side needs to win the support of the Legislative Yuan, which is likely to start debating the proposals next April.
Jiang accused the DPP of pushing for a scheme where workers would have to pay premiums double those planned by the government, while employers would face no payments whatsoever.
Under Ma’s proposal, employers would bear 70 percent of the premiums, employees 20 percent and the government 10 percent, but in the DPP version, employers would bear 60 percent, employees 40 percent and the government nothing, Jiang said.
He said that even though some critics described the government version as pushing laborers to the brink of death, when he saw the DPP plan he was wondering whether it wasn’t the opposition proposals which would do that.
Su countered that the vice premier did not understand the DPP project and was just playing politics with the issue by making senseless critical remarks against the opposition.
He wondered whether Jiang understood the government proposal whose drawing up he had chaired over the past two months. The DPP has been requesting the government hold a National Affairs Conference to solve the bankruptcy problems facing the nation’s social security system, but Ma had continued to go his own way, Su said. Now that the DPP had worked out a proposal of its own, all that government officials did was to misrepresent it and attack it, the opposition leader said.
The DPP has never said employees should bear 40 percent of the labor insurance premiums, but on the contrary, it had opposed government measures to raise the figure to 50 percent, Su said.
The division between 40 percent for employees and 60 percent for employers was quite common in many countries, but it could only be implemented in Taiwan after negotiations between labor, business and government, and certainly not immediately, according to Su.
Jiang defended the government proposals as pointing the way in the right direction, but he was open to more suggestions and adaptations. The government would submit the whole final package to the Legislative Yuan by the end of April in the hope that the reform of the pension system could be completed within a year, Jiang said.
He said he would listen to different opinions at the Legislative Yuan by planning intensive visits and contacts over the next three months.
The vice premier’s prominent role in the preparation of the government plans has fueled media speculation that he might soon be chosen to replace Premier Sean Chen, whose Cabinet has been in office almost a full year amid dismal poll ratings. In the past, Jiang has also been mentioned as Ma’s favorite candidate for the 2014 Taipei mayoral election. He started the process of rejoining the KMT just months ago.