Sat, Nov 29, 2008 - Page 12 News List

DPP boss slams government’s bailout policies

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) warned yesterday that unemployment will quickly worsen — “the worst since the 1980s,” calling the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s stimulus and bailout policies “disoriented.”

“By March, many expect the nation’s unemployed to reach 700,000 people,” or more than 6 percent, up from 4.37 percent, or 476,000 people, last month, Tsai told a media briefing.

She blamed the government for giving priority to cross-strait policies, which she said would only encourage China-bound capital outflow and reduce jobs for domestic workers.

The government’s bailout plans are wrongly aimed at big companies such as those in the auto industry, instead of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), she said.

Although she agreed with the government’s goal to boost domestic consumption, Tsai urged the Cabinet to limit the consumer voucher scheme to “one month or no more than three months.”

“Such a short-term scheme should be executed immediately to maximize its short-term boost,” she said.

To ease the jobless problem, Tsai suggested the government create short-term jobs, such as temporary jobs with some of the government’s many infrastructure projects, which would provide a cushion to the unemployed, “instead of 12 vague iTaiwan projects.”

Most importantly, the government should create long-term jobs in fields such as alternative energies and biotechnologies, she said.

Tsai urged the government to continue with the DPP government’s priorities in developing the care-taking industry, which she believes would create tens of thousands of jobs at a cost of only NT$80 billion (US$2.4 billion).

The government should also “adjust its policies on importing foreign [low-end] workers to reserve more job opportunities for domestic workers,” she said, without giving further details.

Meanwhile, Chang Jing-sen (張景森), former vice chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), lambasted the Cabinet’s plan to come to the rescue of the auto industry and developers.

He said that such a bailout scheme would be “expensive and only save a few hundred jobs.”

The government’s bailout plan should target domestic-demand industries, which create external economic effects, he told the briefing.

For example, the government should encourage home improvement by subsidizing renovation projects, which would create demand for many troubled SMEs in related industries while adding value to the properties, Chang said.

He said SMEs would be the hardest hit by the financial crisis and economic slowdown.

Roscher Lin (林秉彬), chairman of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (中小企業協會), estimated that the monthly closure of SMEs has climbed to 7,000 companies since September, which he said might have caused 35,000 job loss per month.

The association urged the Financial Supervisory Commission to help them negotiate with banks to secure loan rollover for at least one year and an increased loan to value ratio to “secure their survival,” Lin said.

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