Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Minister optimistic on wage increase

Staff writer, with CNA

Council of Labor Affairs Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) said yesterday he is optimistic that the domestic economy would improve sufficiently to allow the minimum monthly wage to be increased this year.

The Cabinet decided in September last year to raise the minimum hourly wage, but not the minimum monthly wage, fearing it would deliver a blow to employers at a time of economic difficulty.

It said that the minimum monthly wage of NT$18,780 would stay the same until GDP grew by 3 percent or more for two quarters in a row or the jobless rate dropped below 4 percent for two consecutive quarters.

Pan said he was optimistic the economic growth target would be met, especially after new Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) forecast GDP growth would exceed 4 percent this year, while the unemployment rate would fall below 4 percent.

The growth goal could be achieved as early as the end of the first quarter.

The nation’s economy grew 3.42 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to an estimate by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, and the statistics bureau has projected 3.53 percent growth for the whole of this year.

Pan said the council committee that reviews the minimum wage level will be convened in the third quarter, and he hoped the minimum wage could be adjusted based on the country’s economic growth.

The Cabinet decided in September last year that the minimum hourly wage would rise from NT$103 to NT$109 at the beginning of this year.

However, it angered labor groups when the minimum monthly wage remained unchanged, sparking claims that the government was favoring business interests at the expense of the nation’s workers.

Then-labor minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄), who supported the minimum monthly wage hike, resigned over the Cabinet’s decision.

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