TAIPEI (CNA) – The Ministry of National Defense (MND, 國防部) made public Tuesday key points in its proposed reform of military pensions, including setting a minimum monthly pension payment for retired military personnel of NT$32,160 (US$1,065), the same as for civil servants.
Other key points include calculating monthly pensions based on average monthly salary earned in the last 36 months before retirement. Those who served in the military for at least 20 years before retiring are to be entitled to a monthly pension equal to 50 percent of that baseline wage.
The percentage will be higher for those who served in the military longer than 20 years, the MND said, noting that for personnel at the rank of lieutenant-general or lower, the 50-percent pension payment replacement rate will be increased by 2.5 percent for every extra year of service beyond 20 years.
Generals will be entitled to a yearly hike of 2 percent, the MND said. The planned measure is being introduced to encourage military personnel to stay in the military as long as possible, the ministry explained.
At present, the monthly pension calculation is based on double the base salary a person earned the month before retirement.
As for the preferential 18 percent interest rate retired veterans draw on special retirement savings accounts, it will be gradually phased out but be retained for those whose pension falls below the minimum level of NT$32,160, according to the MND.
The perk will be phased out in different ways. For active or retired military people who served before 1996 the 18 percent interest rate on savings from those years will be eliminated immediately and the savings paid to account holders.
For those who have served since 1996, the 18 percent benefit will depend on overall retirement income. If the overall monthly pension (including the 18 percent interest) veterans currently receive is higher than what they are entitled to under the proposed reform, the difference in income will be gradually reduced over a 10-year period to the new lower level, the MND said.
The ministry explained that the key points of the planned reform of the military pension system are based on three ideas, including that military personnel enjoy the best care the government can provide and that savings must be made to fund the military pension program – which is expected to go bankrupt in 2020 – to remain liquid for the next 30 years.
The third idea is that the level of salary contributions should be raised to the same level as that for public servants to increase the funding of the military pension program, the MND said.
Following the publication of the proposed reforms the public will be given one month – starting Tuesday – to express their opinions, which will be collected by military pension reform promotion and consultation panels across the country, before the MND and the Veterans Affairs Council drafts a new pension system for the military.
The publication of the key points of military pension reforms came one day after hundreds of retired veterans staged protests outside the Legislative Yuan and Executive Yuan, blasting the government for attempting to bring its draft reform bill to the Legislature without discussing the details with concerned civic groups.
By Lu Hsin-hui and Elizabeth Hsu