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Police brace for protests against pension reform bill

2018/04/25 16:37:09

Taipei, April 25 (CNA) More than 1,000 police officers have been deployed to the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to deal with protesters rallying against a military pension reform plan who plan to hold an overnight vigil at the site.

About 1,200 officers were sent to patrol the site after barricades have been erected and traffic controls had been imposed on roads near the legislative compound to deal with the protests, according to the National Police Administration.

The protests were sparked by a public hearing being held at the Legislature on the government's military pension bill proposal on Wednesday.

The hearing was held after the proposal passed its initial hurdle at the Legislature on Friday amid clashes between ruling and opposition lawmakers.

The proposal sets the minimum monthly pension for military personnel at NT$38,990 (US$1,337), higher than the NT$32,160 floor set for retired civil servants and public school teachers that will take effect on July 1.

It has drawn strong opposition from military retirees who will see their pensions cut under the measure because of the gradual phasing down of a preferential 18 percent interest rate on pension savings.

According to the proposed bill, military retirees who currently collect the 18 percent interest on a lump sum retirement payment will see the rate on those savings cut to 12 percent in the first two years after passage of the bill.

The preferential interest rate will then be lowered by two percent every two years until it reaches six percent in the seventh year, where it will remain.

For military retirees who collect a monthly annuity, the 18 percent interest rate will be phased out over 10 years.

The Cabinet postponed its efforts to push the bill through the Legislature in February after 62-year-old retired colonel Miao Te-sheng (繆德生) fell to his death while climbing the wall of a building in the legislative compound during a previous protest against the measure.

But the bill proposed by the Cabinet on April 12 passed its first reading at the Legislative Yuan on Friday.

The opposition Kuomintang demanded that four hearings on the bill be held at the Legislature before it is sent to committee to be reviewed, but the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has only scheduled one hearing.

(By Chen Chun-hua, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Evelyn Kao)