Thu, Dec 28, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Premier aims to balance development

SHARE THE WEALTH:Increases to minimum wage and minimum hourly pay would enable workers to benefit from an improving GDP, Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji said

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Children play at a kindergarten in Taipei yesterday, as Premier William Lai pledged that the government would implement childcare subsidies to address the nation’s low birthrate.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday proposed redefining administrative zones to balance urban and rural development, and introducing a population policy to boost the declining birth rate as the Executive Yuan’s priorities next year.

Lai recounted the Cabinet’s achievements over the past year at an end of year news conference, saying that his policies are oriented toward developing the economy, promoting renewable energy sources and technology, as well as achieving social justice, and promoting security and cultural policies.

He said he would prioritize a fertility policy, drug and crime prevention, and balancing urban and rural development as the Cabinet’s goals next year.

The government is to begin evaluating how administrative regions could be rezoned to alleviate the unequal distribution of resources in rural areas, he added.

Local governments are constantly underfunded and understaffed, while public officials in the six special municipalities are better paid and have more opportunities for promotion than their counterparts in rural areas, leading to a brain drain outside of the special municipalities, Lai said.

The Cabinet is to amend the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法) to give local governments more resources to retain talent, he added.

It is also to fund city governments to develop plans to boost the local economy and culture, providing career opportunities for young people, Lai said.

A set of new population policies is to be announced soon, which would aim to boost the nation’s sub-replacement birthrate, while introducing immigrants, he added.

The policies aim to increase the average number of children born per woman from 1.17 to 1.4 by 2030, Lai said, adding that if the birthrate remains at its current level, the nation’s population would decrease to less than 20 million by 2056.

The government is to introduce subsidy packages for private kindergartens to make them as affordable as their state-run counterparts, he said.

Lai said he introduced a similar policy in Tainan during his first term as mayor, waiving public kindergarten tuition fees while offering a subsidy of between NT$70,000 and NT$75,000 per year for each child registered with a private kindergarten to reduce child-rearing costs for parents.

The Ministry of Education has been preparing budget plans for a possible nationwide implementation of the subsidy policy, and measures are to be announced after the Lunar New Year holiday, he said.

To prevent drug trafficking, the government is to redouble efforts to crackdown on criminal organizations by utilizing new legal tools provided by amendments to the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例), which widened the criteria for recognizing a criminal organization and authorized law enforcement agencies to confiscate all such groups’ assets believed to be obtained illegally, Lai said.

To boost the economy, the Cabinet has relaxed financial and environmental laws and regulations to boost flexibility and efficiency, such as streamlining the processes for environmental impact assessments and urban renewal reviews, he said.

Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) said the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics has raised its forecast for GDP growth next year to 2.29 percent, lower than the global average, but higher than developed countries.

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