Wu: bar on social aid lowered to help more people (Taiwan News)

Vice President Wu Den-yih said the government had already lowered the bar on social aid in an effort to help more low-income households and individuals, citing that those not in the know often interpret it as an increase in the number of poverty in Taiwan, reports said Monday.

Statistics by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) showed that 20 percent of local households in the lowest quintile posted negative savings of NT$19,285 (US$643) last year, the eighth year in a row that the savings rate for this income group has been in negative territory.

A DGBAS official said Taiwan’s ageing population contributed directly to the negative savings rate. Most of those who reported negative savings made ends meet by taking money from their children or borrowing through loans

During a post-seminar press conference hosted by the Council for Industrial and Commercial Development (CICD) on Monday, Wu told reporters that for every NT$100 (US$3.3) earned by a business entity in 1996, 51.5 percent of it goes to the salaried, but by 2007 that figure had dropped significantly to 44 percent.

“It’s close to impossible trying to get back to the 1996 standard,” he said.

According to the Wu, despite the rate of negative savings, the scope of poverty in Taiwan hasn’t expanded, but rather the government had lowered the bar on social aid to cover those in need.

“The minimum living expense in the Taipei metropolitan area averages around NT$16,739 (US$558), whereas it’s NT$12,440 (US$415) for the rest of Taiwan,” the Vice President said, adding that the government is working around the clock to unveil more initiatives in an effort to help low-income families.