Saenuri Party floor leader Choi Kyung-hwan and Democratic Party counterpart Jun Byung-hun met Monday to negotiate over the basic pension bill ― only to confirm their differences, fanning concerns over the forthcoming pension program starting from July.
While the ruling party insists on paying out a monthly pension of 100,000 won ($90) to 200,000 to the poorest 70 percent of the pensioners by income, the DP calls for distributing 200,000 won to the poorest 80 percent of senior citizens.
The discussion was held as the National Assembly’s committee on health and welfare and the Ministry of Health and Welfare failed to reach an agreement over the controversial basic pension scheme for senior citizens on Sunday.
Both parties are also at odds over whether to link the existing National Pension Service with the pension scheme.
The Saenuri Party wants to link the payout to the NPS to relieve the burden on the government. But the DP argues that linking the system would create disincentives for subscribing to the NPS, and that everyone should receive the 200,000 won regardless of NPS subscription.
If the bill is not passed by February, the start of the program is likely to be postponed, officials said.
“In order to launch the pension program in July, time is needed for its preparation,” Choi said before the negotiation. “The bill must be passed no later than this month.”
The basic pension bill was part of President Park Geun-hye’s election pledges. Park promised to provide a monthly pension regardless of the income level of senior citizens, but scaled back the scheme last year, citing budget restraints. The bill was then sent to the National Assembly for approval.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (firstname.lastname@example.org)