Unemployment at 4.5%
The overall unemployment rate for 2004 is expected to be 4.5 percent, thanks to a government program begun two years ago to create jobs, a government official said yesterday. Taiwan followed South Korea's model and offered jobs in the public service sector to boost employment in early 2003 and to help curb the growing jobless rate, said the official with the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD). According to official statistics, the short-term job-creation program offered nearly 46,000 people jobs for a period of six months last year, which CEPD officials said would help bring down the nation's jobless rate for 2004 to 4.5 percent. As of June last year, there were about 21,000 applicants hoping to find work through the program, with about 10,000 of them being placed with employers, statistics showed.
Foreign spouses to get aid
Beginning this month, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) is managing a NT$3 billion fund allocated by the Executive Yuan to help foreign spouses adjust to their new lives in Taiwan. The fund, known as the Foreign Spouse Care and Counseling Fund, aims to provide educational, counseling, and medical assistance to the nation's 330,000 foreign spouses and their children. In order to manage the fund, the MOI has set up a committee, which consists of 31 members. Among the members, one third of the members are government representatives while the remaining are academics and civic groups. The committee seeks to bring together the central and local governments and civic groups by making use of the fund to assist foreign spouses. This fund is in addition to the budget the MOI has set aside under Foreign and Chinese Spouses Counseling Management Plan.
Temperatures to increase
The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said the temperature is expected to rise to above 20?C this morning and will even reach over 26?C in southern Taiwan. According to the CWB, the lowest temperatures yesterday were in Chiayi and Tamsui, at 5.3?C and 6.6?C respectively. Temperatures today are expected to reach at least 20?C in most regions: 20?C in the north, 23 in central areas, and 26 in the south. The CWB predicts warm weather will continue for two days before it turns cold again, and the chance of rain within these warm days is slim. The CWB also said that after tomorrow, another cold front may approach and the temperature may decline slightly and the precipitation may increase.
Bikes allowed on highways
Since Jan. 1, licensed riders of 250cc motorcycles are allowed to hit high speed roads for the first time in Taiwan. The Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) opened two high speed roads -- the Province Road 68 in Hsinchu County and the Province Road 72 in Miaoli County with the upper limit of 80 kph -- to motorcycle for a six-month probation period. According to the Directorate General of Highways under the MOTC, Taiwan started to import motorcycles with engines above the size of 250cc as Taiwan entered the WTO in 2001. Yet riders of motorcycles with engines above the size of 250cc are still barred from the nation's high speed roads and highways. Officials said that they will assess the traffic security during the six-month probation period and consider whether to allow riders of 250cc motorcycles to take to the highways.