Wed, Jan 17, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Wage goal viable in four years: Shih

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) goal of raising the minimum monthly wage to NT$30,000 (US$1,015) could be achieved in four to six years if economic and wage growth remain stable, Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) said yesterday.

The government on Jan. 1 raised the minimum monthly wage by 4.5 percent, from NT$21,009 to NT$22,000, higher than the national economic growth of 2.2 percent, Shih said during a radio interview.

If the minimum wage increases by 6 percent every year, it would exceed NT$30,000 by 2024, or by 2022 if it increases by 8 percent annually, Shih said.

“If economic growth can be kept at a stable level and if the minimum wage growth is higher than economic growth, the president’s ideal can be achieved between four to six years,” he said. “It is not forever unattainable.”

South Korea last year raised the minimum wage by 16 percent, causing the closure of many small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as layoffs at larger businesses, Shih said, adding that Taiwan cannot afford such an extreme hike.

To improve the low-wage situation, Tsai and Premier William Lai (賴清德) have reached an understanding and are to propose a set of policies next month, Shih said.

The policies could be considered a combination of “cocktail” and “targeted” therapies, Shih quoted Lai as saying.

The “cocktail therapy” would include raising the minimum wage, improving the employment rate and achieving a general wage hike by initiating a salary raise in the public sector, Shih said.

The “targeted therapy” would focus on individual sectors, such as the restaurant and retail industries in which low-wage employment is common, as well as young workers and first-time jobseekers, among whom the unemployment rate is high, he said.

Meanwhile, Lai while attending an economic forum reaffirmed the government’s efforts to attract investment to improve the economy and salaries.

While the nation’s private sector is not short of funds, much of it is invested overseas, Lai said.

For example, the insurance sector has invested 70 percent of its NT$20 trillion in foreign markets, Lai said, adding that the Cabinet is making efforts to channel those funds back to Taiwan to boost the economy and infrastructure.

The Cabinet’s four-year Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program would also encourage private investment, Lai added.

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