Tue, Nov 09, 2010 - Page 2 News List

‘Borderline poor’ subsidy mulled

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff reporter

The Council of Labor Affairs yesterday said it was mulling a government subsidy program to reward people considered “borderline poor” who manage to find employment.

Council officials told the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee that it is looking into providing subsidies to encourage the more than 180,000 people who are living above the poverty line, but have an income 1.5 times below the minimum living standard, to find work.

People who work at least 30 hours per month for a minimum of three months could be eligible for the cash subsidy, said Lin San-quei (林三貴), director-general of the council’s Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training, adding that the plan could contribute to helping decrease income disparity by raising income levels of the borderline poor and improve the job market.

Lin said the South Korean government already provides such subsidies, accompanied by a series of other measures to boost job numbers, such as in-depth career counseling, employment training and high-frequency job match-ups.

Council officials would not provide other details about the plan, such as how much the cash subsidy would be or a timeline as to when the program could take effect.

However, after being accused by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) of “humiliating the borderline poor” by implying that they are too lazy to work, Lin quoted Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) as saying that the council had yet to finalize plans for the subsidy, which was introduced by the Council for Economic Planning and Development, and that the program was still in the evaluation phase.

Huang said the borderline poor were not unwilling to work, but that the job market remained less than optimal for workers in that category.

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