Mon, Dec 25, 2017 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Cabinet working on stable child support, minister says

In the face of declining fertility rates, the government plans to expand childcare support and encourage people to have more children, as long as it is able to bear the financial cost, Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i said in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporters Jennifer Huang and Rachel Lin

By Jennifer Huang and Rachel Lin  /  Translated by staff writer Sherry Hsiao

Taiwan’s parenting subsidies for children aged up to two are NT$2,500 and the wealthy are excluded, while in Japan, children aged 15 or younger all qualify for child subsidies. In Germany, child subsidies can continue until the age of 25.

Looking at childcare, Japan has achieved a 90 percent admission rate for children aged up to five years old, 60 percent of whom are accommodated at public institutions.

In France, 100 percent of children aged three to five are admitted into public childcare institutions.

In Germany, the admission rate for children aged three to five has also reached 94 percent.

LT: The government is consolidating resources. How does it plan to raise the total fertility rate more effectively?

Lin: The government provides financial support for children aged five to six to attend preschool free of tuition. The admission rate can surpass 90 percent.

However, for children aged three to five, the admission rate is only 50 to 60 percent.

The government plans to add more than 30,000 spots in public childcare within four years. It also plans to increase the penetration rate of preschools and to increase the admission rate to 90 percent. In terms of the ratio of public to private preschools, the government hopes to gradually adjust it to 4:6 or even 5:5.

If the government budget allows, parenting subsidies could also be extended to a larger slice of population. Counties and municipalities are raising their subsidies for private preschool enrollment, but those schools’ prices cannot be controlled. If the expenditures were used to establish more public preschools, that might be more economically beneficial.

The Executive Yuan and its divisions are busy consolidating funds and making calculations in hopes of achieving the greatest effect despite limited finances.

The government is also going to improve workplace friendliness toward young mothers through measures such as breastfeeding rooms, flexible work hours and affiliated childcare facilities.

Workplaces that do not discriminate against pregnant women or women will be eligible for “friendly workplace” certification. In other countries, there are many such “friendly” stores and banks.

LT: Beginning in 2015, the workforce has started decreasing by 180,000 people annually from its peak. Labor shortages are already making themselves felt. In terms of the government recruiting people and talent, what are the possible directions and challenges?

Lin: After Taiwan’s population reaches its forecast peak in 2024, it will quickly decrease starting in 2025. If you discuss talent recruitment, it is impossible not to discuss immigration policy. Domestic industries have been relying on more than 600,000 foreign migrant workers.

Meanwhile, our immigration policy allows less than 20,000 or 30,000 people per year to immigrate through marriage or as dependents, and the restrictions on labor immigration are relatively strict.

However, if the nation needs forward-looking talent i, it should not only let technical workers come over to work, but also let them stay and even let their children live in Taiwan.

For example, Taiwan’s long-term care relies heavily on 240,000 foreign caregivers. They are allowed to work in Taiwan for a maximum of 14 years and many of them are highly experienced and skilled. Taiwan should welcome these people to stay and continue to provide services, or even to open long-term care facilities by themselves.

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