Friday, October 7, 2016

Retirees’ subsidies have ‘no legal basis’

Retirees’ subsidies have ‘no legal basis’

‘UNFAIR’:The use of NT$1 billion of subsidies that was earmarked for the education of retired civil servants’ children is a ‘violation of social justice,’ a government report said

By Cheng Hung-ta and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer
There is no legal basis for retired government employees collecting subsidies for their children’s education, a government report said.
The report by the Legislative Yuan’s Budget Center said that retired civil servants have been collecting child education subsidies that add up to more than NT$1 billion (US$31.6 million) annually, or 80 percent of the total payouts for the subsidy.
The payouts reached NT$1.41 billion last year, the report said.
It said that the use of the subsidies by retirees has “no legal basis,” adding that the situation should be rectified.
The education benefits are outlined in the Essential Benefits for Nationwide Public Service Employees (全國軍公教員工待遇支給要點), which provides assistance to cover the education costs of working civil servants’ children from elementary school to university. The subsidy provides NT$35,800 per term for private school tuition and NT$13,600 for public school tuition.
The Executive Yuan in 1976 issued a statement about the possibility of allowing retirees to apply for the subsidy, sparking debate at the time.
The number of claimants of the subsidy last year was 69,082, of which 59,868 were retirees, collecting NT$809 million, the report said.
This year’s estimated claims from the Veterans Affairs Council are NT$800 million, comprising 59,727 claimants, it added.
Only government employees can apply for the subsidy, the report said, adding that a civil servant’s connection with the government is severed upon retirement.
It called the granting of the subsidy to retired employees a “violation of social justice.”
Statistics from the Ministry of Education show that there are 914,000 students studying or paying student loans. An average of 319,254 students apply for loans annually, of which 301,664 are college or university students — the rest being high-school students.
The number of students who apply to private schools is four times the number of students who apply to public schools, the statistics showed.
The ministry said it allocates about NT$3 billion annually for subsidies to pay the interest on tuition loans.
Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said the government has been discussing the subsidy as part of its reform of the pension system, adding that it would prepare a draft bill next year.
“Applications for the subsidy by those currently in office is something that could be considered reasonable, but retirees should not receive it... it is unfair to families carrying the burden of student loans,” New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said, adding that the NPP supports pension reforms that would eliminate disparities in pay and benefits between individuals in the same occupation.
Civil servants all have different backgrounds and are paid according to individual qualifications, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, adding that the investigation must be thorough and not simply change things for the sake of changing them.
“Revisions must be made only after reaching a consensus through prudent and comprehensive investigation to avoid repercussions,” Chiang said.

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