By Ko Lin
Premier Mao Chi-kuo said during legislative hearing on Monday that there is no special antidote to help boost the island’s overall economy.
Mao’s response came when Kuomintang Legislator Lai Shyh-bao asked if there was a plan to re-launch the consumer voucher program, an economic stimulus package initiated by the government in 2009 to combat the economic downturn in Taiwan.
The premier was joined by Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Minister Shih Su-mei, Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ho, and Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng at the Legislative Yuan regarding the government’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
According to Mao, the plan for a re-launch of the consumer voucher program would need approval from the legislature, noting that a stimulus package was not in the mind of the Executive Yuan when it was carving out its fiscal budget.
The overall amount distributed in the form of consumer vouchers in 2009 was NT$85.8 billion, roughly around US$2.75 billion, Mao said.
In terms of a proposed hike to the minimum monthly wage from the existing NT$20,008 to NT$25,000, the premier however downplayed the idea, saying a raise could seriously pose a burden on the island’s business operators amid the economic downturn.
Minister of Labor (MOL) Chen Hsiung-wen further added that from the current average of NT$27,000 for fresh college graduates seeking first-time jobs, and NT$30,000 for undergraduates, the monthly wage is about adequate.
Lai however blasted Chen for his ignorance, saying the monthly salary for first-time job seekers with a secondary school degree already average NT$25,000.
“Your head is clearly stuck in the clouds,” Lai criticized during the legislative hearing on Monday.
Meanwhile, Mao promised to work together with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Finance (MOF) to study the feasibility of a minimum monthly wage hike once the domestic economy picks up.