Wed, Jul 16, 2003 - Page 2 News List

May Chin attacks quota change

JOB OPPORTUNITIES The lawmaker says a plan to reduce the quota for Aboriginals to be hired in free ports will only add to unemployment problems

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislator May Chin calls a press conference yesterday to lash out at the administration and some of her colleagues for trying to reduce the percentage of Aboriginal laborers to be hired in free ports.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Independent Aboriginal Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) condemned the government and other legislators yesterday for trying to reduce the percentage of Aboriginal laborers to be hired in free ports.

The criticism follows passage of the Statute Governing the Establishment and Management of Free Ports (自由貿易港區設置管理條例) in the special legislative session that ended Thursday.

"Aboriginals comprise 1.9 percent of the country's population, yet the Aboriginal unemployment rate is three times the national average. It is only fair that Aboriginal laborers be guaranteed at least 5 percent of the employment positions in the free ports," Chin said.

"The statute is supposed to help Taiwan's economy, yet with the tax cuts, all the money goes to the capitalists, and the public will not be able to share their success. If we are going to strip the public of employment opportunities, then the whole economic-improvement scheme is shameful," she said.

Article 12 of the statute says that 5 percent of employees should have Aboriginal status. Companies that can't reach the target will be forced to contribute to an employment fund.

The government, however, was afraid this article might scare away investors.

The Council for Economic Planning and Development said last week that since the free ports are intended to offer advantageous financial benefits and tax cuts to attract investors, it would be strange and unfair that the enterprises in the ports were required to employ more Aboriginal workers than those outside the ports.

The penalty for failing to reach the target would only burden the enterprises and damage their global competitiveness, the council said.

After the statute was passed last week, several DPP legislators held a press conference to voice their objections to the article. Similar voices were heard in KMT and PFP quarters.

DPP Legislator Lin Chung-cheng (林忠正), who represented his party in negotiations over the draft with other parties, said yesterday the DPP caucus opposed the article and would propose getting rid of it in the next legislative session.

"Aboriginals are only 1.5 percent of the population, but they are asking for 5 percent of the employment positions in the ports. It is over-protection," Lin said.

"If companies cannot reach the target, it is pointless. The penalty would only frighten away potential investors. I would prefer to do this the other way around -- rewarding enterprises who can reach 5 percent," Lin said.

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