United Daily News: Taiwan's 'fake farmers' phenomenon
Central News Agency
2014-01-13 11:26 AM
Three years ago, some households in Japan were found to be deliberately concealing the death of elderly family members so as to continue receiving old-age benefits.

The phenomenon emerged after two decades of economic stagnation in Japan, which forced people to take advantage of legal loopholes to provide for themselves. Such incidents have damaged trust between the Japanese government and its people, with the foundations of social trust beginning to collapse. In Taiwan, there are as many as 910,000 "fake farmers" who are eating away at NT$27 billion (US$900.96 million) in public funds every year. Since an elderly pension program for farmers was launched in 1994, the monthly payment has increased from NT$3,000 to NT$7,000, due largely to the game of one-upmanship during elections. People aged 65 and older are eligible to receive the pension once they have been paying farmers' insurance for six months. This means that the insurance program allows easy access to the pension. The phenomenon of "fake farmers" stems from the Taiwanese people's habit of taking advantage of legal loopholes and their over-dependence on government. It was irresponsible of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to turn the farmers' pension into a kind of universal welfare. The DPP is lying when it describes the current government's efforts to reform the pension program as a plot to "eradicate farmers." Raising the minimum period of insurance subscribership from six months to 15 months would be the first step toward plugging the loopholes and getting rid of "fake farmers." In fact, the farmers' pension should be incorporated into the national pension program. Genuine elderly farmers are not culpable. Fake farmers and irresponsible politicians are the real impediments to Taiwan's progress. (Editorial abstract -- Jan. 13, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)

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