Political parties maybe looking to set up a pension for former lawmakers to replace the subsidy they plan to reduce as part of their political reform plans.
During last year’s presidential race, political reform was one of the main issues, and reducing the privileges afforded to politicians was a key item on that agenda.
Among related issues, reducing the 1.2 million won ($1,130) per month subsidy given to the members of the Parliamentarians’ Society was one of the first things the two main parties ― the Saenuri Party and the Democratic United Party ― agreed on.
The Parliamentarians’ Society is an association of former lawmakers, and has about 1,100 members.
As such the two parties have agreed to revise related regulations to reduce the number of former parliamentarians eligible for the subsidy and to process it during the upcoming extraordinary session.
However, the special committee on political reform is reported to be discussing plans to introduce a pension scheme funded partly with tax money.
If introduced, the funds for the scheme will be established with government funds and monthly payments from the individual lawmakers.
The existing subsidy, however, is paid from the government budget and does not require a lawmaker to have made regular contributions.
According to reports, the agreement drawn up by the two parties state that plans for setting up a pension scheme similar to those provided for civil servants need to be reviewed.
The agreement, obtained by a local daily, goes on to say that outside experts should be contracted to establish a system that will allow former lawmakers over the age of 65 to live on pensions.
The political reform committee is also reported to have obtained data on overseas examples from the National Assembly Research Service in order to enable pensions to be paid starting with incumbent lawmakers.
The lawmakers who took part in the discussions have admitted that the issue was on the agenda, but that there was general agreement that the timing was not right to put the plans into action.
Introduced in 1988, the subsidy for members of the Parliamentarians’ Society has been criticized on numerous occasions.
In 2004, the organization introduced a clause preventing individuals who served as members of the National Assembly for less than one year from receiving the subsidy, after controversy rose when a lawmaker held office for only 29 days. The clause, however, was deleted in 2007.
At present three former lawmakers in office for less than one month, and 37 individuals who were in parliament for less than one year are drawing the subsidy.
Former lawmakers who have been fined or given heavier punishments for crimes are also eligible to receive the subsidy following the completion of the sentence.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org