20130522 Officials seeking to enrich selves: DPP lawmakers
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Officials seeking to enrich selves: DPP lawmakers

By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan / Staff reporters

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang points at a chart showing Cabinet officials’ participation in National Science Council research programs during a press conference in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday accused government officials, including Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), of seeking to take advantage of the pension reform and research programs funded by the National Science Council to enrich themselves.

A Cabinet proposal to amend the Act Governing the Recompense for the Discharge of Special Political Appointees (政務人員退職撫卹條例) would increase Jiang’s retirement pension by NT$12 million (US$400,000), DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference.

“While the retirement pay of private and public-sector workers will shrink because of the financial problems plaguing the various pension programs, Jiang will make a fortune after the reform [of the pension system]. This act is like looting a burning house,” Chen said.

If Jiang retires in 2016, he will have accumulated 25 years of service — having served 17 years as a public school teacher in addition to his years of service in government — which will qualify him for pension payment, Chen said.

The proposed change in the calculation method would boost Jiang’s pension from NT$2.85 million to NT$14.87 million, he added.

Sacrificing others and benefiting oneself is not the right way to carry out pension reform, the lawmaker said.

At a separate news conference, DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) slammed Cabinet officials for doubling as project leaders in research programs sponsored or funded by the National Science Council, saying it has raised questions about their integrity and ability to focus on government affairs.

Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源), Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧), Atomic Energy Council Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻), Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Kuan Chung-min (管中閔), Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川), Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) and Minister Without Portfolio Schive Chi (薛琦) have all served as project leaders for the council’s programs, receiving subsidies of more than NT$15 million after assuming their current posts, Tuan said.

“It seems to me that their current posts are their part-time jobs,” he said, adding that the Cabinet members should resign from these research projects.

In response, National Science Council official Cheng Chung-fen (鄭瓊芬) told the press conference that academics who serve in the government, except those who are posted overseas, can apply for research subsidies, but they are prohibited from receiving payment from the program as long as they are still working for a government agency.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) last night called the allegations a “malicious” attempt to “defame” academics-turned-politicians.

It is “disappointing” that the DPP thinks the academics decided to work for the government for the sole purpose of “fattening their purses,” Cheng said.

The proposed amendment to the Act Governing the Recompense for the Discharge of Special Political Appointees was drafted long before the government launched plans to reform the nation’s pension systems, Cheng said.

If the proposed pension reforms were adopted, a professor who taught for 30 years and lives 20 years after retirement could receive a pension of NT$17.46 million in total, Cheng said.

Jiang would have received NT$17.46 million if he continued teaching to complete his 30 years of service in school, higher than the NT$12 million mentioned, Cheng said.

Cheng said Jiang would not be eligible to apply for pension if he leaves the government on May 20, 2016, because his years of service in academia and in government would add up to less than 25 years.

There was no truth to the DPP’s allegations, Cheng said.

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