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President says now is the time to review minimum wage standards

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that now is an appropriate time to review the nation's minimum wage standard, adding that branches of government need to step up their coordination in order to decide by how much wages should be increased.

Economic growth has stabilized since the beginning of the year, with tax revenue exceeding expectations and export volume increasing steadily, the president said.

However, the consumer price index has also inevitably risen, and although the government has made efforts to keep the overall index below 3 percent, basic necessities such as food and clothing have risen over 4.6 percent, directly affecting the average laborer and low-income families, the president said.

The president pointed out that Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) recently proposed a review of the minimum wage, expressing support of the premier's proposal.

The fruits of economic growth should be enjoyed by not only businesses but also laborers, the president said.

The president explained that the amount by which the standard should be increased is a difficult question, because small increases will not make a difference and large increases may drive inflation higher; therefore, when discussing the minimum wage, emphasis needs to be placed on reaching a consensus between laborers and employers.

Branches of government also need to step up coordination in order to arrive at a win-win result, the president said.

The president also cited the most recent Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics survey on family income and expenditure, saying that the wealth gap has actually been decreasing over the past four years.

Several indicators show that the wealth gap is at its narrowest since more than a decade ago, which indicates that the government's policies aimed at narrowing it have shown substantial results, the president said.

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