The government has introduced a micro-loan program, offering preferential loans of up to NT$1 million -- at three percent interest -- to budding middle-aged entrepreneurs.
"The program will be a cure for the nation's hardest-hit unemployed group, aged between 45 to 65, who are usually the chief wage-earners in the family," Premier Yu Shyi-kun said at a press conference yesterday.
Micro-borrowers who meet the age requirements will also be required to propose business plans that include employing up to five staff members. The feasibility and profitability of the business plans will be carefully reviewed by banks before deciding whether loans will be granted.
According to Minister of Econ-omic Affairs Lin Yi-fu (
The ministry expects that within one month there will be at least 100 applicants applying for loans under the program. The scheme will provide technical assistance and training to the new business owners until it wraps up on Jan. 21, 2005.
The government said it will budget a total of NT$200 million from the Small and Medium Business Credit Guarantee Fund (中小企業信保基金) to secure as much as 80 percent of the loans, the fund's president Lee Kuo-shyong (李國雄) said.
With the government acting as the guarantor, banks won't require collateral from borrowers, said Soo Jin-fong (
However, Rocky Yang (
"Starting up a new business is more difficult for the middle-aged unemployed than landing a job," Yang said.
In a worst-case scenario, Yang said that the loans may later become a financial burden on the unemployed if their businesses fail to generate revenues to pay back debts.
Meanwhile at yesterday's press conference, the premier announced another plan -- to take effect soon after the Lunar New Year holiday -- allowing well performing small- and medium-sized enterprises to be listed on the TAIEX.
"To accelerate their growth, a stable channel will be established for small- and medium-sized enterprises to funnel capital," Yu said.
According to Minister of Finance Lin Chuan (
To secure stock liquidity and prevent price manipulation, the government will require to-be-listed companies to circulate at least 10 percent of their stakes -- some 1 million to 1.5 million shares -- on the open market, Lin added.
According to Chien Hsin-nan (
Chen expressed his hope that, following the relaxation of the regulations, at least 200 to 400 companies would soon apply to be listed on the TAIEX.