Tue, Oct 28, 2008 - Page 11 News List

CLA struggles to rein in rising unemployment rate

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan’s rising jobless rate cannot be reversed without comprehensive economic development and growth, Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said yesterday.

The council launched a NT$3.7 billion (US$110.8 million) package of new measures last week to boost the employment rate, but legislators said it would only have a short-term effect on the high unemployment rate and Wang did not disagree.

“To solve the long-term unemployment problem in Taiwan, it is still necessary to expand domestic demand,” Wang said at a legislative committee hearing, stressing that the nation’s economic development needed to be strengthened to reverse current trends.

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration launched a NT$58.3 billion program early this year to expand domestic demand that hopes to increase economic growth by 0.25 percent and create 56,000 jobs, but it is unclear if the plan has shown any tangible results amid an economic slowdown.

Wang said that even if the jobless rate were to rise from last month’s 4.27 percent to the historical high of 5.17 percent set in 2003, the Employment Insurance Fund’s NT$102 billion was sufficient to assist workers.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs also recently presented a plan to boost local employment, but as it was considered similar to the CLA’s package of measures, Minister without Portfolio Tsai Hsun-hsiung (蔡勳雄) suggested over the weekend that the ministry encourage enterprises to replace foreign laborers with local workers.

About 35,000 foreign workers could be laid off if the plan is approved by the Cabinet, but Chen I-min (陳益民), director-general of the Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training, said the plan was still under discussion.

Among the NT$3.7 billion in job-boosting measures announced by the CLA on Friday, companies that hire a worker who has been unemployed for the previous three months can receive a monthly subsidy of NT$10,000 for up to six months. The program hopes to fund the hiring of up to 10,000 workers by the end of the year.

Local government agencies will also be given subsidies for hiring underprivileged individuals to perform temporary jobs.

If the CLA’s measures do not make enough of an impact in creating jobs, the agency will consider expanding their scale, Chen said.

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung City’s Bureau of Labor Affairs is set to begin holding interviews tomorrow for 500 temporary municipal government job openings under its “Warm Winter Plan.”

The bureau said yesterday that the temporary jobs were being offered in response to rising unemployment in the city amid tough economic conditions.

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