Birth rate expected to rise
The number of births registered in the nation dropped to 199,113 last year, a decrease of 13.23 percent from 2012, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. Last year, the total fertility rate was 1.07 births per woman, down from 1.27 in 2012, the ministry said. The number of babies born reached a high of 229,481 in 2012, mainly due to a preference for having children during the Year of the Dragon, as the dragon is considered the luckiest of the Chinese zodiac signs, the ministry said. The Year of the Dragon began on Jan. 23, 2012, and lasted until Feb. 9 last year. It was followed by the Year of the Snake, which ends on Jan. 30. The interior ministry said the nation’s birth rate is likely to increase this year based on an increase in the number of marriages last year.
Council finds violations
Unpaid overtime was the most common violation among employers in Taiwan last year, according to a nation-wide inspection conducted by the Council of Labor Affairs. Making employees work overtime without proper compensation was the most common violation, council official said yesterday. Out of 14,000 inspections across different sectors, the council found violations of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) in 3,671 cases (26.2 percent), according to its latest report. Extra work without extra pay was the most common at 1,234 instances, with hospitality businesses accounting for 15.2 percent of them. The healthcare service ranked second for exploiting unpaid overtime, followed by the social services industry, the council said. The second most common violation was having employees work in excess of the maximum legal hours, council officials said. Under the Labor Standards Act, an employer is liable for up to NT$300,000 in fines for either of the two offenses.
Eastern Taiwan shaken
A magnitude 5.7 earthquake jolted eastern Taiwan at 2:15am yesterday, the Central Weather Bureau said. The quake’s epicenter was at sea, about 166.5km east of Yilan County Hall at a depth of 25.5km, bureau officials said. The strongest tremor, with an intensity of 2, was felt in several areas of Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, Changhua and Yunlin counties.
Tsai denies wrongdoing
Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday denied any wrongdoing in a controversy linked to Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co when she was vice premier between 2006 and 2007. She said media reports that she supported the company when the government was trying to terminate a contract with it because of poor performance could be part of a politically motivated smear campaign against her. Tsai said she presided over a negotiation session with the company in June 2006, which failed to reach an agreement, but she had no role in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ decision to keep the contract. Tsai office spokesperson Hung Yao-fu (洪耀福) issued a press release yesterday saying the resurrection of the allegations, which had been refuted by the Executive Yuan in 2006, could be an effort on the part of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to shift the focus away from its poor performance.