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DPP's Tsai vows pension, housing reforms if elected (update)

DPP's Tsai vows pension, housing reforms if elected (update)

Taipei, Dec. 30 (CNA) Tsai Ing-wen, the presidential candidate of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), reiterated her determination Wednesday to reform Taiwan's nearly bankrupt retirement pension system and push affordable housing if she is elected president next month.

In a televised presentation by Taiwan's three presidential candidates of their policy platforms, the DPP chairwoman reiterated her plans to assemble a pension reform committee, which she said will comprise scholars, experts and representatives of different sectors.

The government will release actuarial data as reference, and the committee members will put forward a concrete reform plan, which will be submitted to a national conference on pension reform for further discussion and then sent to the Legislature for approval, she said.

"We estimate that results can be attained within six months, or no more than a year," Tsai said.

She said pension reform is something that "must be done" because Taiwan's hidden pension liability has reached NT$18 trillion(US$545.7 billion) and the four major pension funds in Taiwan are poised to go broke within 15 years.

Tsai also stressed that her pension reform is not targeted at any particular group, and invited military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers to join her efforts.

"You are not the target of our reform, but our partners in the reform. We need the participation of everyone," she said.

During her presentation, Tsai also pledged to put an end to speculation in the housing market by registering the actual prices of property transactions and taxing real estate based on its market value.

She also vowed to create 200,000 units of affordable housing over a period of eight years, saying that Taiwan currently offers only around 7,000 affordable housing units, even though there is a demand for 320,000 units.

The rate of affordable housing in Taiwan is much lower than that in Japan, South Korea and European countries, Tsai added.

The presidential candidate also promised to introduce childcare and long-term care services in communities for the young and the elderly. She said she would allocate NT$30 billion to NT$40 billion each year to long-term care services for the elderly, more than 10 times the amount currently allocated.

She will pay for the cost through tax on designated property and with government budget, Tsai said.

On the issue of U.S. pork imports, Tsai said it is important for Taiwan to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and that the issue of U.S. pork imports poses a sever challenge for Taiwan in its bid to join the TPP.

"It is not easy to handle this problem. There is no need for us to lie to the people about it," she said.

She said it is "too soon" to talk about whether Taiwan should open its market to U.S. pork, but she will not compromise Taiwanese people's health.

She said Taiwan will face many issues besides U.S. pork imports in its bid to join TPP, and the negotiation process will be lengthy.

She said her government will communicate with the people, industries and lawmakers so that the people understand the government's stance. (By Christie Chen)