Wed, Jan 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Tsai nixes Shih’s minimum wage idea

SHAKING THE MONEYMAKERS:The president said that all employers she has met have told her they have made plans to increase their employees’ salaries this year

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

A proposal by Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) to raise the minimum monthly wage to NT$30,000 by 2024 by 6 percent annual increments is a “mathematical” but impractical approach, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Monday during a television interview.

Shih on Tuesday last week said that the goal of raising the minimum monthly wage to NT$30,000 could be achieved in four to six years if the amount is increased by between 6 and 8 percent every year.

Asked if she would pledge to raise the minimum salary to NT$30,000 by 2024, Tsai said the government could not impose such a goal on economic development.

“If the economic conditions are good, if businesses are able to afford raising pay, I believe the salaries will continue to go up even without making changes to the minimum wage,” Tsai said.

Tsai’s administration has twice raised the minimum wage, from NT$20,008 to NT$22,000, which is a large increase compared with previous adjustments, she said.

Meanwhile, Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday reiterated his plan to boost investment to address the problem of low, stagnant salaries.

“The most effective means to solve the issue is to encourage investment in Taiwan,” Lai said during a visit to Miaoli County.

The Cabinet has put forward three proposals — raising the salary of public-sector employees by 3 percent in the hope of initiating across-the-board pay increases; implementing tax cuts to increase personal disposable income; and remove investment obstacles, such as industrial shortages, Lai said.

The “five plus two” industrial innovation plan and the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program aim to upgrade and transform local industries, and develop a comprehensive infrastructure network that would also help invigorate the economy and raise salaries, Lai said.

During the television interview, Tsai said that the Cabinet proposed a 3 percent salary increase for public-sector workers in the hope that it would encourage private firms to give their employees pay raises.

All employers she has met have told her they have made plans to increase their employees’ salaries this year, the president said, adding that a number of surveys indicate that about 50 percent of firms are likely to give their employees a raise this year.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus deputy secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) yesterday cast doubt over Tsai’s remark that more than half of firms are expected to give their employees pay raises this year.

If all businesses were to give their employees raises just to make the president look good, “Taiwan would be doomed,” Tseng said.

Fifty percent should be considered a “very pessimistic” forecast, he added, citing his stint as Financial Supervisory Commission chairman, during which time between 60 and 70 percent of businesses gave their employees pay raises each year.

Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) said that if the government were to initiate a third drive to amend the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) it would probably incur the wrath of the public.

The government has no plans to further amend the act because it is unwilling to own up to its mistake of pushing through the latest amendments this month, which have sparked complaints, especially among young people, Ma said.

The government should figure out what young people really want, she said, adding that low wages have remained the main source of complaints.

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