CEILING AND FLOOR:Most respondents to the survey agreed on the establishment of upper and lower limits to retirement payments, reflecting realistic expectations
By Stacy Hsu / Staff reporter
The public is broadly supportive of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) pension reform plans, despite a large protest staged by retired and active civil servants, public-school teachers and military personnel earlier this month, according to a survey released by the Taiwan Style Foundation yesterday.
Among those polled, 80.8 percent said they supported the government’s plans to push for pension reform, compared with 9.2 percent who were against.
A cross-analysis of the results showed that while pension reform received the highest support among respondents leaning toward the pan-green camp at 91.5 percent, a majority (71.9 percent) of pan-blue-leaning respondents were also in favor of reforming the nation’s cash-strapped pension systems.
About 83 percent of respondents agreed to the introduction of “a ceiling and a floor” to monthly pension payments that can be drawn by retirees, in order to prevent people who earn high wages from receiving large pension payments while protecting low-income earners, the poll showed.
A significant portion of those polled (43 percent) believed the ceiling should be set to less than NT$50,000, while 25.2 percent said the floor should be between NT$25,000 and NT$30,000.
As for the income replacement ratio of pensions, 30.6 percent of respondents said the ceiling should fall between 50 percent and 59 percent, while 31.1 percent said the floor should also land in that range.
“The survey showed that the large protest on Sept. 3 did not affect the support of the vast majority of the public for the government’s pension reform plans,” Taiwan Style Foundation board director Wang Zhin-sheng (王智盛) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
As respondents’ ideal income replacement ratio was similar to the average pension of 57.6 percent in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations, a public consensus seems to have gradually been forged on the matter, despite some criticizing weekly meetings of the Presidential Office’s National Pension Reform Committee as being chaotic and unproductive, Wang said.
Tsai’s approval rating dropped 4 percentage points from 53 percent last month to 49 percent, while her disapproval rating climbed from 41.2 percent to 43.3 percent in the same period, the poll showed.
The president appears to have disappointed pan-green supporters the most, as the percentage of that group’s members who expressed satisfaction with Tsai’s performance declined from 81.6 percent in an Aug. 22 poll to 73.3 percent.
However, her approval rating among pan-blue respondents rose from 13.6 percent to 16.4 percent in the same period.
Despite recent calls by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus and some members of the pan-green camp for a Cabinet reshuffle, 56.2 percent of those polled opposed the idea of Premier Lin Chuan (林全) stepping down.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said that while many people are not happy with Lin’s performance, they seem willing to give Tsai’s first premier more time to do his job, presumably for the sake of political stability.
“Nevertheless, should Lin fail to timely prove his competence, he could face overwhelming pressure from the public for him to quit,” Wang Ting-yu said.
DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said the poll indicated that people are practical and reasonable when it comes to pension reform, as they do not seem to harbor unrealistic expectations about the pensions they are entitled to.
Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said the government’s goal is to ensure retirement security and quality of life for every citizen, and urged people to work together to make the nation’s pension systems more sustainable.
The telephone-based poll was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday last week by the Great Society Survey Center for the foundation.
It collected 1,075 valid samples among Taiwanese aged 20 or above and has a margin of error of 2.99 percentage points.