In a bid to persuade more people to pursue a career in farming, lawmakers yesterday passed the Farmers’ Pension Act (農民退休儲金條例), which requires farmers and the government to deposit equal amounts of money in a dedicated account as a pension fund for farmers.
The act stipulates that to qualify for the pension scheme, an insured person must be engaged in agricultural work, have joined the Farmers’ Health Insurance program and not be receiving any other pension.
A motion sponsored by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) to allow farmers to allocate between 1 percent and 10 percent of the minimum wage — currently NT$23,800 — to the account each month and have the Council of Agriculture match the sum passed after garnering a majority.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
To guarantee the fund’s profitability, the savings would be eligible for an interest rate of no less than that offered for fixed bank deposits of up to two years, the act states.
In cross-caucus talks, the council proposed that farmers younger than 50 be allowed to deposit 6 percent of the minimum wage, while those aged 50 and older would be allowed to allocate up to 10 percent, with both sums matched by the council.
The proposal was eventually scrapped at yesterday’s plenary session.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) proposed that farmers be allowed to deposit up to 10 percent of the minimum wage each month and that the council should deposit 1.15 times the amount saved by farmers in the account, but that proposal was struck down in a vote.
Farmers covered by the scheme would start receiving monthly pension payments when they turn 65, the act states.
Those receiving subsidies under the Farmers’ Health Insurance program because they are mentally or physically disabled can start receiving monthly pension payments before they turn 65, it states.
The act complements the Farmer Health Insurance Act (農民健康保險法) and the Farmers’ Insurance Act (農業保險法) as the last mile to completing a welfare system for farmers, Chen said.
Pension payments would be issued on top of a subsidy for older farmers, giving them an extra layer of protection after retirement, she said.
Passage of the Farmers’ Pension Act fulfills President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) election campaign promise to better protect farmers, she added.
Trial balances provided by the council based on a 6 percent allocation rate and profitability of 3 percent showed that a farmer would receive NT$26,000 per month, including the existing subsidy, if they contribute to the program from age 30 to 65.
Insured people could receive even more in the final version of the act, as it has a higher 10 percent allocation ceiling.
The council plans to ask 60,000 farmers to join the fund in its first year and gradually raise that number to 450,000 to match the number of people covered by the Farmers’ Health Insurance program.
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