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September 21, 2017

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President Ma urges companies to give employees raises

TAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou urged private companies on Sunday to share their profits with their employees by giving them pay raises to restore public confidence in the economy.

It is not easy to strengthen economic confidence if salary grow this sluggish, Ma acknowledged at a press conference in Honduras, where he will attend the inauguration of Honduran President elect Juan Orlando Hernandez.

The president said a number of factors indicate that Taiwan's economic performance has been competitive, including inflation and jobless rates that are lower than those seen in developed countries.

The country's inflation rate is the lowest among Asia's "four little dragons" (Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong) and the unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent in December, he said.

Taiwan's ranking in the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness index edged up one notch to 12th in 2013, and Taiwan's economy has grown an average of 3.07 percent over the past five years, faster than the 1.96 percent growth averaged by the global economy during the same period, he added.

Despite these positive factors, however, the average real monthly earnings of Taiwanese workers in the first 10 months of 2013 were at about the same level as they were 15 years ago, according to government statistics released late last December.

Local companies have been profitable in recent years and should take responsibility in caring for their employees, especially middle-and low-level workers, Ma urged, while pledging to continue to improve the country's investment environment.

Ma and his entourage began their current diplomatic tour Jan. 23, and they have already visited two of Taiwan's African allies — Sao Tome and Principe and Burkina Faso.

They are scheduled to return to Taiwan on Jan. 30.

Business representatives expressed support for Ma's call, saying that a good investment environment could help companies generate profits and afford pay raises for their employees.

Tsai Lien-sheng, secretary-general of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries, said raising pay levels is the responsibility of the private sector but that the government is responsible for making it possible for companies to be profitable.

The reason why companies have failed to give raises to their workers is because Taiwan's investment environment is poor, and companies are not making money, Tsai contended.

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