Two associations advocating the rights of the unemployed called on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to protect the interests of the nation’s 400,000 jobless when it adjusts electricity and fuel prices.
The groups said that rising prices have put pressure on the unemployed as well as on other families, adding that the new government should scrap unfair fuel and electricity pricing measures that have unemployed people struggling to pay for utilities while select individuals and businesses benefit from preferential rates.
The Association Promoting the Rights of the Unemployed and the Alliance Promoting Re-employment of the Elderly said that Taiwan Power Co figures indicated that the state-run utility loses NT$4.4 billion (US$144 million) a year by subsidizing the preferential rates.
The group urged the government to hold a hearing with civic groups on the matter. Otherwise, it said, the crisis facing the nation’s unemployed will only intensify.
The groups said that the government should implement a package of complementary measures as it raises electricity and fuel prices. Subsidies for the unemployed should be boosted from 60 percent to 70 percent of their most recent salaries, they said, adding that the subsidy period should also be increased from half a year to one year.
They also suggested lengthening the period that jobless workers can receive health care subsidies from six months to one year.
Members of the new administration suggested before the inauguration that they would raise fuel prices soon after taking power. The Democratic Progressive Party administration had avoided raising prices since last November in response to inflationary pressures.
But with world crude prices soaring, the new government has said that fuel prices should be adjusted to reflect the rise in costs.