Tue, Feb 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

More money needed for job plan

EMPLOYMENT PUSH The Cabinet will ask the legislature for almost NT$20 billion more to pay for one of its year-long projects aimed at cutting unemployment

By Ko Shu-Ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday approved a funding proposal for a NT$22 billion job-creation project for public services, according to which the Cabinet will request an additional budget of NT$19.9 billion from the legislature as soon as it reconvenes next Tuesday.

The project is expected to create about 89,000 job opportunities in the public service sector.

Addressing a press conference at the Executive Yuan yesterday morning, Council for Economic Planning and Development Vice Chairwoman Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said that since the government has not yet obtained funding for the project, it will pay for 600 jobs that have already been created with NT$4 billion from a Council of Labor Affairs stability fund.

"We're calling on the legislature to approve the request because we desperately need the money to help the jobless became employed again," she said.

Ho made the remark after the closed-door meeting presided over by Yu to discuss the funding proposal for the NT$20 billion project proposed by the council.

According to Ho, about 600 unemployed people were hired under the program before the Lunar New Year.

They were among the tens of thousands who had called the government's unemployment hotline to register for work.

Some 90,000 people have signed up since the hotline was opened on Dec. 27 and 55,000 have qualified to get jobs.

While the Cabinet will make the additional budget request for the NT$20 billion project, it plans to issue public bonds totaling NT$45 billion to fund a NT$50 billion job-creation project in public construction.

The other NT$5 billion will come from the annual surplus of the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp.

In December, the Executive Yuan approved the NT$20 billion project to create public-service jobs and a NT$50 billion public-construction program with the hope of boosting the economic growth rate to 3.52 percent and lowering the unemployment rate to below 4.5 percent this year.

Together the projects are expected to create 115,000 jobs. Each project will last for one year.

The Cabinet had wanted the projects paid for with special budgets, which would exempt them from legal limits on the amount of money the government can borrow.

Under public debt rules, the government can borrow up to 15 percent of its annual budget.

The deficit makes up 14.5 percent of this year's budget.

Opposition parties, on the other hand, want to amend the Public Debt Law (公債法) in order to raise the debt limit or to redirect money from other sources to pay for the projects.

Although the legislature has conditionally approved the NT$20 billion bill, it left the funding of the program to be raised with additional budgets.

For the NT$50 billion project, the legislature has asked the Cabinet to fund the project with additional budgets.

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