Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Lu introduces the Sunshine Family Plan to assist poor

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday she would introduce a "Sunshine Family Plan" in the near future in the hopes of encouraging wealthy families to help poorer people get ahead.

In recent years, Lu said, Taiwan has become overly obsessed with politics while overlooking the significant socioeconomic changes that have occurred partly as the result of increasing globalization.

This is why the wealth gap between rich and poor people in Taiwan has grown wider, she said.

The average annual income of the wealthiest 20 percent of the nation's households is NT$1.79 million, 6.04 times that of the bottom 20 percent at NT$298,000, Lu said.

Worse still, she said, 85,000 of the nation's households lead a hand-to-mouth existence.

Against this backdrop, Lu said she felt compelled to come up with the Sunshine Family Plan.

Precise details about the program would be given in the near future, she said.

In addition, the bitter confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties in recent years has hindered national development and affected political stability, she said.

With a strong opposition in the legislature, a stalemate in the lawmaking process has emerged, Lu said.

As a result, many important bills and policy initiatives have been boycotted or deferred. Preoccupation with political strife has left major social and economic issues neglected, such as the aging of the population, low birth rate, high unemployment and rising suicide, Lu said.

She noted that the number of people who committed suicide had jumped from 1,847 in 1996 to 4,282 last year.

"Given all these grim tallies, we should no longer be preoccupied with partisan politics and should instead pay more heed to the income inequality problems in the pursuit of socio-economic justice and judicial independence and impartiality," Lu said.

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