Newspaper article China Post

Executive Yuan Must Not Bend to the Will of Business Interests

Newspaper article China Post

Executive Yuan Must Not Bend to the Will of Business Interests

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted)

After the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) submitted its minimum wage adjustment proposal to the Executive Yuan, Minister without Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming ([...]), citing the current dire economic conditions and low profits obtained by private companies, voiced his opposition to a minimum wage rise. Kuan's objections helped lead to the proposal being put on ice, pending further review.

CLA Minister Wang Ju-hsuan ([...]) said that she will take responsibility for "what she should" if the Cabinet decides not to adjust the minimum wage in the near future.

Such a setback reminds observers of many other policies initiated this year. After the incumbent president's re-election on Jan. 14, he initiated four reform projects - the stock gains tax, twin power hikes, 12-year compulsory education and adjustment of minimum wages. With the exception of the education plan, these reforms have not only failed to be implemented, but have backfired politically.

Likewise, Wang is not alone in her situation. Economic Minister Shih Yen-shiang ([...]) said Sept. 17 that he is the person who should be fully responsible for the sudden shelving of the second planned electricity rate increase. Former Finance Minister Christina Liu ([...]) even stepped down due to the dispute over the stock gains tax. There hasn't been any apparent need for the minister of the Ministry of Education to make such a statement ... at least not yet.

Interestingly, among these four reform projects, the 12-year compulsory education goal is the only one not directly related to the interests of private enterprise.

Union members are outraged at Kuan's role in keeping their wages stagnant, and their anger might not be baseless.

It is uncommon for a minimum wage adjustment proposal to be halted by the Executive Yuan. The CLA made its decision based on meetings with government officials, scholars, labor union members and representatives of private companies. In the past, when participants of such meetings reached an agreement, the Executive Yuan has tended to accept the decision.

This time however, while representatives of private businesses already had their say in the final proposal submitted by the CLA, Kuan - acting in the interests of big business - is likely setting the groundwork for the wholesale discarding of this custom in the near future. …

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