Minimum wage to be raised later this year: official

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 - Page 1

The minimum wage will be raised this year, with the range of the increase surpassing the estimated annual inflation rate, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said yesterday.

Wang’s comments came amid mounting concerns about inflationary pressures as electricity rates are set to rise by between 16.9 percent and 35 percent from May 15, following an average 10 percent increase in the prices of petroleum-based fuels that took place on April 2.

Speaking on the sidelines of a committee meeting at the legislature, Wang said the council is scheduled to hold a meeting in the third quarter of this year to review the minimum wage.

“As part of our efforts to protect the rights and interests of wage earners, the minimum monthly and hourly wages will surely be adjusted upward this year, with the range fully reflecting domestic consumer price increases,” Wang said.

The current minimum monthly wage is NT$18,780, with a minimum hourly rate of NT$103.

In its latest forecast issued two days earlier, the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research said the consumer price index (CPI) could rise by 1.93 percent this year as a result of the power and fuel price rises. That figure is 0.45 percentage points higher than its previous estimate made in December last year.

Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Shih Su-mei (石素梅) said the increases in both fuel and electricity prices could drive CPI growth above 2 percent this year.

“In any case, all government departments will do their utmost to keep headline inflation at bay,” Shih said, adding that she hoped inflation this year would remain below 2 percent.

Shih said the agency regularly tallies the prices of 424 major products sold on the domestic market, and it would release its forecasts on GDP growth and inflation for this year on April 30 after factoring in various elements, such as international crude oil prices and raw material costs.

On Wednesday, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said if the government failed to keep CPI growth at no more than 2 percent this year, he would step down to take responsibility.