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Government submits new draft on civil service pension reform

Government submits new draft on civil service pension reform

Taipei, March 21 (CNA) The Ministry of Civil Service put forth a reform proposal Thursday that it claimed was a "concession" from its January plan, but the National Civil Servant Association immediately denounced it as "simply delaying the death sentence for retirees." The latest version -- which was submitted to the Examination Yuan for deliberations --puts off until 2017 the time when the new pension system will go into effect. The ministry's January proposal set effective year at 2016, when pensioners will get their pension based on the average income of their last 10 years in service. By 2021, the average will be gradually lowered to the average of their salary during the last 15 years in service. The new pension reform proposal also raises the government's contribution to each civil servant's pension fund from 50 percent to 60 percent, while the civil servant's own contribution is cut from 50 percent to 40 percent. Another "new offer" from the government concerns benefits for new recruits, whose retirement pension will be paid in three packages for a total of 75 percent of their pre-retirement earnings. Under this new proposal, the government share will be increased by 10 percent and the individual's contribution will be decreased by 10 percent, compared with the January plan. Lee Lai-hsi, convener of the National Civil Servant Association's pension reform task force, said none of the new offers were concessions. "They are but an attempt to delay the death sentence for civil servants. We will not accept the new proposal," he said. The self-contribution rule of the government proposal was particularly frustrating to them. Currently, civil servants need to contribute only 35 percent of their pension fund each month, with the government paying the other 65 percent. "Just like in a house-selling deal, the seller gave a high price before cutting it down. Do you call that a concession?" Lee asked. He was also unhappy about the Ministry of Civil Service's latest proposal to put off the time for implementing the new system that includes lowering the base level of calculating a retiree's pension income. The base amount will be based on the average income of a civil servant's last 10 to 15 years in service. Currently, the base amount is based on his or her last monthly salary. Delaying the new system's effective date by just one year, from 2016 to 2017, "isn't a concession. It's just putting off our death sentence by one year," Lee said. If the government were serious about reforming the nation's pension system, it should shake up the whole system for military personnel, civil servants, public school teachers as well as laborers, he said. The ministry's proposal is expected to be discussed at three more Examination Yuan conferences before being finalized. It then will be submitted to the legislature for further deliberation. (By Sophia Yeh and S.C. Chang)