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Municipal government delays pension fund

The Hsinchu municipal government launched a pension scheme in July 1994, despite budget constraints. According to news report, the municipal government has delayed pension payments to eligible recipients starting in September 2006. The Control Yuan (CY) launched an investigation and found multiple administrative errors by the Hsinchu municipal government. (Case no. 0970800171)

For the purpose of optimizing budget use, persons who currently receive living allowances or other social benefits shall not receive additional subsidies. The said persons include veterans on lifetime living subsidies, politically appointed personnel, civil servants, employees of state-run businesses receiving regular installments or lump-sum payments, individuals whose consolidated income tax for the declared year as approved by the Revenue Service exceeds 500,000 NT dollars, and individuals with land and real estate valuing more than 5,000,000 NT dollars. In July 1994, the Hsinchu Magistrate launched a stand-alone pension scheme, funded entirely by the municipal government, despite a tight budget.

Under the new scheme, eligible citizens receive a monthly payment of 3,000 NT dollars. In January 2008 alone, a total of 9,020 persons who fell under the aforementioned exclusion categories were granted monthly payments, amounting to an annual pension payment of over 650,000,000 NT dollars. It seems that “the wealthier you are, the more pensions you receive.” As such, the scheme was widely considered a means to secure elections rather than serving the senior residents in need of economic support.

The series of delayed payments by the Hsinchu government beginning in September 2006 exposed administrative negligence. First, the municipal government failed to assess the criteria for granting pensions, resulting in abuse of social resources and funding. Second, the municipality showed inertia upon discovery of the problems. Third, since the new pension scheme was actually a political statement given by the former magistrate during the election campaign, persons above the age of 65 who did not take residence four months prior to the election day were not eligible for the pension.

At the request of the CY, the Hsinchu municipal government revised its pension scheme to exclude wealthy senior citizens. The revised scheme became effective on February 1, 2010. The Ministry of the Interior, the overhead body of the Hsinchu municipality, is also expected to supervise and see to it that disadvantaged senior citizens enjoy economic security. While the Control Yuan has no jurisdiction over the policy-making, it urges the Hsinchu municipal government to evaluate the economic status and needs of senior residents within its jurisdiction and adjust and improve the existing scheme accordingly.