The Presidential Office and the Cabinet yesterday rejected calls for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and other high-ranking officials to cut their monthly salaries, saying they were worried it risked setting a precedent that could spill over to the private sector, offsetting government efforts to stimulate public spending.
Several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers on Wednesday proposed following Singapore’s lead by pushing for salary cuts for civil servants during the economic downturn.
Singapore’s Public Service Division said on Monday that top government officials, including Singaporean President S.R. Nathan, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), administrative officers and political, judicial and statutory appointees would see their salaries drop by between 11 percent and 19 percent next year.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday said he believed such an action would have a negative impact.
Wang acknowledged Singapore’s plans to cut the payrolls of government officials and US president-elect Barack Obama’s call for chief executive officers of financial institutions to forego bonuses.
However, Taiwan’s problem was that the public was unwilling to spend money, thereby, worsening an already bleak economic situation, he said.
To tackle the problem, Wang said, the Executive Yuan has announced several measures aimed at stimulating consumption.
He said the Presidential Office was worried widespread salary cuts might have a negative impact on the private sector and the public as a whole.
“The worst-case scenario is that the efficiency of the government’s economic stimulus plan would be diminished, including consumer vouchers,” he said. “That is what worries us.”
A high-ranking official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the issue smacked of “populism” and that it was the consensus of the government and party that “it was an issue that did not deserve any more discussion.”
The party would pressure legislators to drop the topic, the official said.
The official said that when he got the ball rolling, it would not stop at Ma or political appointees, but would affect the private sector and then wage earners.
“The most important thing at the moment is to stimulate public consumption,” he said. “Political appointees must take the lead to spend money. When everybody spends money, businesses will make money. When businesses make more money, people will spend more money.”
If government officials’ salaries were cut, private companies might follow suit and that would offset the efficacy of the government’s economic stimulus plans, including the consumer vouchers, the official said.
“The government is willing to consider all options if they are conducive to energizing the economy, but if not, we will not risk them,” he said.
At a separate setting yesterday, Executive Yuan Spokeswoman Vanessa Shih (史亞平) also rejected the suggestion, saying that the idea ran counter to government efforts to boost spending.
“If this salary cut issue spreads ... and extends from government officials to the private sector, it might compromise [the government’s] well-intentioned plan to stimulate consumption,” she said.
On top of that, the situation in Singapore and Taiwan cannot be mentioned in the same breath because government officials in Singapore have salaries more then 10 times higher than those of their counterparts in Taiwan, Shih said.
Shih said Taiwan didn’t always have to follow the example of other countries.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), on the other hand, yesterday urged high-ranking government officials to consider taking a pay cut to show the government’s determination to get through the economic downturn.
Wang said the heads of five major government branches — the Executive Yuan, the Legislative Yuan, the Judicial Yuan, the Examination Yuan and the Control Yuan — and high-earning officials should consider voluntarily cutting their salaries, even though the move would not have any substantial effect on the nation’s economy. Wang said he was willing to take a pay cut of up to 20 percent, but did not support expanding the cut to all government employees.
“We should respect the current pay scale of public officials and look after all government employees,” he said.
Wang declined to comment when asked if lawmakers should also take a pay cut.
KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) told a press conference yesterday that all legislators should take a pay cut if necessary. KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said she supported the idea even though many legislators had a lot of bills to cover. Chang also urged state-run enterprises and state-run banks “that did not perform well” to consider revising salaries and year-end bonuses.
While urging officials to take a pay cut, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) yesterday urged Ma to make good his campaign promise to forego half of his salary should he fail to fulfil his “6-3-3” campaign pledge. The “6-3-3” economic policy refers to the goal of achieving annual GDP of 6 percent, annual per capita income of US$30,000, and an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent.
Lin also called on Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) to step down.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN AND JIMMY CHUANG
COMMITMENT: The world’s biggest contract chipmaker said that its new 2nm chips, as well as next-generation, cutting-edge 1.4nm chips, will be produced in Taiwan Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said that the majority of its most advanced chips would continue to be manufactured in Taiwan and that it is boosting advanced chip packaging capacity to catch up with fast-growing demand driven by generative artificial intelligence (AI) applications like ChatGPT. Deeply rooted in Taiwan, TSMC is expanding production capacity for its most advanced 3-nanometer (nm) chips at its Tainan fab and is building new plants to produce new 2-nanometer chips in Hsinchu and Taichung in 2025. The chipmaker also plans to produce next-generation, cutting-edge 1.4-nanometer chips, which are currently under development, at home, it
PASSAGE DISPUTE: A US and Canadian transit was a provocation and an attempt to ‘exercise hegemony of navigation,’ China’s defense ministry told a forum in Singapore The Ministry of National Defense yesterday urged the Chinese Communist Party to avoid provocative behavior after a Chinese navy ship crossed the paths of a US destroyer and Canadian frigate transiting the Taiwan Strait. A Chinese ship on Saturday “executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity of [the USS] Chung-Hoon,” an American destroyer, the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement. The vessel “overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards [137m]. Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 [knots, 18.5kph] to avoid a collision,” the statement said. It then “crossed Chung-Hoon’s bow a second time
HARD-WON FREEDOM: Beijing’s 1989 crackdown on protesters has not been and should not be forgotten, as China tightens its grip on Hong Kong, Lai said Taiwanese enjoy democracy and freedom and have multiple ways to express their creativity, and hopefully young people in China would also one day have the freedom to sing and express themselves, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, commemorating the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s bloody crackdown on student-led protests in Beijing in 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident. Tsai posted a photograph taken in March in a subway station in Guizhou, China, where hundreds of young people gathered to sing People With No Ideals Don’t Get Hurt (沒有理想的人不傷心), saying that they
GUILTY AS CHARGED: Chen Hsueh-sheng repeatedly pressed his belly against a DPP lawmaker and made derogatory remarks when confronted over his behavior The Taipei District Court yesterday upheld a verdict against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生), finding him liable for sexually harassing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Fan Yun (范雲) during a physical altercation on the legislative floor in 2020. The DPP lawmaker accused Chen of pressing his belly against her back three times in a sexually suggestive manner during a scuffle between lawmakers from both parties. Chen must pay Fan NT$80,000 in damages as stipulated by a summary ruling of the district court at the first trial, the court said in a news release. The verdict is final as the