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September 24, 2017

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I'll take blame for Cabinet failure: Chen

Premier Sean Chen said yesterday that he is prepared to take full responsibility if the Cabinet fails to stimulate Taiwan's economy.

At a Legislative Yuan interpellation yesterday, Chen expressed his opinion on the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) proposal to cut salaries of government officials if Taiwan's economy does not show progress.

"I don't think a salary cut is the resolution. As a government official, there is only the issue of whether to resign from the post if the policies do not work," he said.

When reporters asked about the DPP's proposal to suspend the year-end bonuses of government officials if Taiwan's economy continues to slump, Chen replied, "This won't be an issue. I should be the one to take full responsibility if the Cabinet fails the people."

Lawmakers Vote on Salary Cut

At the weekly Yuan Sitting yesterday, the DPP, People First Party (PFP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) launched a motion to suspend officials' year-end bonus amid the slowdown of the global economy. They demanded that government officials, including the president, vice president, and premier, should not receive their traditional year-end bonus.

Holding placards that read "Step down, economic officials!" opposition party legislators gathered to demand a vote against the ruling administration. In addition, opposition parties demanded that officials' salaries be cut in half if the GDP growth stays below 3 percent for two straight quarters or if the unemployment rate does not drop below 4 percent after two months.

Both proposals were voted down by the Kuomintang (KMT) party, which holds a majority in the Legislature. The motion to cancel the year-end bonus was voted down 49 to 42, while the motion to halve salaries was rejected 51 to 40.

The opposition parties also proposed that the minister of economic affairs step down, a motion that the floor rejected 47 to 44. In this vote, several KMT lawmakers crossed the floor with their ballot. These included KMT lawmaker Lo Shu-lei, who said, "I did what was right."

KMT lawmaker Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) also voted with the opposition party.

"The Cabinet has no power. The economy is bad. We can't waste any more time," he said.

Minimum Wage Debate Continues

Following the Executive Yuan's final decision to postpone the monthly minimum wage hike, DPP caucus whip Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) said the government has disgraced the procedures of law by denying the minimum wage bill drafted by the review committee.

"Even worse, the government has implemented harsher criteria for the raise (GDP growth must remain above 3 percent for two quarters and the unemployment rate must drop below 4 percent in two months)," he added. "The government should be responsible for creating job opportunities and enhancing the GDP growth. What right do (officials) have to receive a high salary?"

While opposition parties flashed placards that proposed a salary cut on government officials, the KMT spoke out against the demand. KMT legislators said that cutting salaries would set a bad example for Taiwan society and harm the job market's employer-worker relationships.

"It would only hurt the labor more," they said.

When lawmaker Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) asked Premier Chen if he thought the minimum wage decision was successful, Chen replied, "This is not about a policy being successful or not. This was a judgment based on statistical predictions."

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