Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) has performed miserably in his first year on the job, particularly with respect to the economy, and the future does not look bright because he has refused to reshuffle his poorly performing Cabinet, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
“Unfortunately, we could only give him a low score after a comprehensive review of the Cabinet’s performance over the past year,” DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) told a press conference in Taipei.
Jiang was sworn in as premier on Feb. 18 last year and his Cabinet, dubbed the “economic Cabinet,” was expected to lift the nation’s sluggish economy.
The DPP’s Policy Research Committee reviewed a wide range of economic data and found that Jiang’s “economic Cabinet” had not only failed to move the economy forward, but had performed worse than its predecessors, Lin said.
Last year’s GDP growth rate of 2.18 percent was significantly lower than the 3.8 percent forecast by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九), while an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent left Taiwan the worst performer in both categories compared to the other three Asian Tigers — South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, he said.
The most alarming fact was that the unemployment rate among the 20 to 24 age group was 13.75 percent, the second-highest level in history, Lin said.
Statistics also painted a bleak picture for Taiwanese workers as the average monthly salary between January and November last year was NT$34,287, less than the 1999 monthly average of NT$34,845, he said.
The working poor phenomenon was observed, with 3.57 million workers — more than 40 percent of the workforce — making less than NT$30,000 per month, he said.
It has been more difficult for people to find and keep full-time jobs as the number of part-time workers (400,000) and the contracted and temporary workers (590,000) both hit historic highs, the DPP said.
Household finances have been hit hard by the increase in the price of electricity, fuel and natural gas, as well as rocketing home prices, Lin said, adding that it would take 14.7 years for a Taipei resident to save enough money to buy a home — if they contributed their entire salary to savings.
Jiang’s Cabinet has not been able to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI), and the annual FDI of US$4.9 billion last year was the lowest in three years, Lin said.
The premier has left the public with the impression that he is better at political maneuvering — for example, collaborating with Ma in an attempt to oust Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) — than improving the economy, the spokesman said.
“As he has decided to retain the majority of his Cabinet members, we are not optimistic for the coming year,” Lin said.