Wed, Feb 02, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Time is now right for companies to raise wages: Liu

Staff writer, with CNA, Washington

Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) said in Washington on Monday that enterprises operating in Taiwan will raise their employees’ pay this year.

Speaking with reporters after addressing the American Enterprise Institute, a US think tank, Liu said that to her knowledge, both the export-oriented high-tech sector and firms in old economy businesses, such as food processors and property developers, have already increased the pay of their employees.

The 32 percent increase in investment in Taiwan last year has created new jobs, paving the way for increased salaries, Liu said, and her agency has reminded many employers that it was time for them to pay more attention to the welfare and benefits of their employees.

Despite an average growth rate of 5 percent in Taiwan for more than a decade, the country’s workers have not seen commensurate growth in their wages, primarily because the export businesses driving growth have been relocating major parts of their operations overseas, Liu said.

However, last year’s strong economic growth after the economic slump a year earlier could be bringing about better conditions for workers, she said.

The government announced on Monday that Taiwan’s economy grew 10.47 percent last year, its fastest pace in 23 years, and that it is expected to grow 5.03 percent this year, up 0.52 percentage points from the government’s previous estimate in November.

Also, the unemployment rate fell for the 16th consecutive month in December to 4.67 percent as the domestic economy staged a strong rebound.

Liu said the strong economic trends will be augmented by the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in June by Taiwan and China.

The signing of the ECFA has prompted many foreign companies, in particular investors from the US and Europe, to pour funds into Taiwan’s market and seek local partners in a bid to enter China’s market, she said.

The increase in investment has boosted domestic demand and lifted local consumption, Liu said, and she said that under such favorable circumstances, Taiwan’s consumer confidence has improved significantly.

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