On Thursday last week, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics released this year’s figures on average real wages for the period January through June. These showed that the real wage level has reverted to what it was 16 years ago.
The unemployment rate is up 0.11 percentage points from last month, to 4.25 percent. This is higher than the unemployment rates in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore by 0.35 percent, 0.95 percent, 1.05 percent and 2.15 percent respectively.
In terms of the poverty gap in this country, as calculated with the quintile multiplier method, disposable income for the top-earning 20 percent of households last year was 6.13 times higher than that of the lowest-earning 20 percent.
While this multiplier figure is actually 0.04 lower than the 2011 figure, it remains considerably higher than the 5.98 multiplier figure of 2007. Furthermore, looking over the figures for the past 12 years, three of the five years with the highest poverty gap multiplier figures have been when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been in power.
A comparison of annual GDP per capita figures reveals that, in 2008, Taiwan lagged behind South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore by US$1,754, US$13,435 and US$22,552 respectively, but after four years of efforts from the KMT government, this gap had been extended to US$2,656, US$16,192 and US$32,230 last year.
This shows that the KMT has emerged the loser among the governments of these countries, all of whom have been in the same boat, in how it has dealt with the shockwaves from the US sub-prime mortgage financial crisis and the sovereign debt crises in several European nations.
Finally, in terms of attracting foreign investment, Taiwan was ranked second from last in the world by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, ahead only of Angola in Africa, a new record low.
Taiwan also has the questionable honor of having had net outflows for 12 quarters in a row.
This amounts to an accumulated net outflow of as much as US$91.3 billion, almost equivalent to the total budget for the central government for one-and-a-half years.
This means that, under the KMT government, the nation’s investment environment has gone consistently from bad to worse.
The KMT government has failed dramatically in its efforts to deliver an improved economy, so it is not just that foreign investment is no longer coming in. For example, the “6-3-3” plan — achieving a 6 percent economic growth rate, less than 3 percent unemployment and per capita income of over US$30,000 under the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — has failed miserably.
The proof is in the pudding and the public is on the receiving end of this government’s efforts. A monkey in silk is a still a monkey. The KMT cannot cover up its incompetence without eventually being shown for what it is.
Huang Tzu-wei is a researcher at the Taiwan Thinktank.
Translated by Paul Cooper