Lawmakers still split on pension bill as clock ticks

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Lawmakers still split on pension bill as clock ticks

The ruling and main opposition parties yesterday agreed to hold an extra plenary meeting today, the last day of the extraordinary session, to finalize a myriad of bills, including a measure to set up a standing independent counsel system.

Though the two parties agreed to have an extra meeting today, it remains unclear whether they will reach a compromise on the revised basic pension scheme and pass it through the National Assembly today in order to implement it in July as scheduled.

Saenuri and Democratic lawmakers on the Legislation and Judiciary Committee passed a motion yesterday introducing a standing independent prosecution counsel, which would allow the National Assembly to appoint special prosecutors to investigate alleged crimes, ranging from corruption to wrongdoing by government agencies.

The committee members also passed a motion calling for the formation of a special inspection body charged with monitoring the relatives of the president or senior Blue House members to prevent potential ethical breaches. Both bills will be put up for a vote today at the Assembly.

But while the Saenuri Party and the Democrats reached a consensus on an independent counsel, the prospect that they will reach an agreement on the revised basic pension plan and pass it at the extended plenary meeting today remains slim.

With just a day left before the extraordinary session ends, the two rival parties yesterday failed to narrow their differences on the details of the revised pension plan.

Under the revised scheme, supported by the Saenuri, seniors who are not qualified for benefits from the National Pension Service (NPS), or those who have paid into their NPS accounts for 11 years or less, will receive the full 200,000 won ($187) a month. But seniors who have paid into their accounts for more than 11 years will get less since the NPS will also be giving them benefits.

For each additional year of contributions to an NPS account, the basic monthly pension will be reduced by about 10,000 won. Those seniors will receive at least 100,000 won a month.

The DP currently maintains all seniors aged 65 and older in the bottom 80 percent income bracket should be provided with a 200,000 won monthly allowance as a basic pension regardless of their input into their NPS accounts. Despite days of negotiation to find a middle ground, Korea’s major political players have not signaled yet that they will adjust their positions in order to strike a deal.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]



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