The government should extend relief programs by another three months for all businesses other than urban hotels and travel agencies that continue to struggle due to the nation’s border controls, the General Chamber of Commerce (全國商業總會) said yesterday.
Chamber chairman Lai Cheng-yi (賴正鎰), who owns Taichung-based Shining Group (鄉林集團) and the luxury hotel brand The Lalu (涵碧樓), said that gift shops, pet boarding facilities, tour bus companies, movie theaters and trade show organizers have failed to benefit from an ongoing boom in dining and domestic travel.
“They would have no choice but to shut down if the government keeps border controls and ends wage subsidies,” Lai told a news conference in Taipei.
Photo: Lee Ya-wen, Taipei Times
Those companies depend heavily on international tourist arrivals and authorities should not cut them off while planning to shore up urban hotels and travel agencies, he said.
Revenue has dried up for trade show organizers, while movie theaters have seen their income plunge by 90 percent due to a lack of supply of new films from abroad, Lai said.
The chamber thanked the government for its assistance in the previous three months through low-interest loans and wage subsidies that expired at the end of last month.
However, it is too early to pull the plug, as the government continues to ban foreign tourist arrivals and locals from traveling abroad, Lai said.
The unemployment rate is very likely to spike if authorities slam the brakes on the relief program without introducing supporting measures, the chamber said.
Service providers hire more workers in Taiwan than manufacturing companies, which appear to command more attention from policymakers, Lai said.
It is time the government adopts a balanced economic development approach that would take care of all, he added.
“A balanced approach is urgent and critical as the virus outbreak is reshaping people’s behavior... Some jobs might be lost forever and policy directions are badly needed to help companies transform and survive,” Lai said.
All government agencies should be involved in this mission, instead of being limited to transportation and economic officials, the chamber said.
Taiwan should raise its tolerance level and ease restrictions on inbound travelers on the condition that it would not strain the public health system, Lai said.
South Korea and China have granted business travelers speedy passes on a reciprocal basis and Taiwan should seek a similar arrangement given its close economic links with China, he added.
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