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Taiwan Votes 2024: From fixing trash disposal to fixing pipes, Taiwanese are finding ways to make work pay off


Supporting start-ups, improving livelihoods and economic growth are a key issue in Taiwan’s 2024 presidential and legislative elections, which take place tomorrow (Jan 13).

The presidential frontrunner, William Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, for instance, has said he wants to grow Taiwan’s start-up ecosystem and create 20,000 jobs among start-ups in five years.

Candidates have also pledged to increase salaries, another longstanding gripe of workers in Taiwan. 

The minimum wage increased to NTD$27,470 this year, and Kuomintang’s presidential hopeful Hou Yu-ih wants to gradually increase it to NTD$33,000. Mr Lai has also said he wants to mandate that new publicly traded companies pay their employees at least NTD$30,000 a month.

“Should Taiwan raise wages? I think we should. Many workers feel their wages are undervalued, such as professors,” said Dr Huang Jr-Tsung, Distinguished Professor of Public Finance at National Chengchi University. The salary of a professor in Taiwan is about a-quarter that of a professor in Singapore, for instance.

While sluggish or negative economic growth is bad for workers because it leads to higher unemployment, robust growth does not necessarily mean workers’ salaries increase in tandem, he noted.

This is because of systemic issues and the way Taiwan’s economy has developed. For instance, Taiwan’s export orientation is partly why wages have not risen in tandem with economic growth, as higher production cost hurts export competitiveness, he said.

Since 2000, official statistics show annual real economic growth is about 3.79 per cent, but salary growth is 1 to 2 per cent, he noted. After accounting for inflation of about 1 per cent per year, real wages have almost no growth, he said.

Article was originally published from here

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