The China Post
By Grace Soong–The severity of the wealth gap cannot be calculated by taxation statistics, Director of the ruling Kuomintang’s (KMT) Culture and Communications Committee Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲) said yesterday. The topic of a widening wealth gap came up during a Legislative Yuan question-and-answer session on Tuesday. Legislators from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) quoted figures drawn from the Ministry of Finance’s (財政部) Financial Data Center (財稅資料中心統計) and asserted that Taiwan’s wealth gap has widened every year since President Ma Ying-jeou came into office in 2008.
The nation’s wealthiest made 93 times the salary of the poorest 5 percent of the population in 2010, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-Fei (陳亭妃) said. Wealth Equality is KMT’s Goal: Chuang The wealth gap should not be calculated by individual income tax returns, Chaung said, emphasizing that the KMT government has always seen wealth equality as the ultimate goal it governs toward. Usually, the wealth gap is calculated by dividing the average income of households with the top income of the nation’s wealthiest 20 percent and poorest 20 percent, Chuang said, asserting that there exists no nation that calculates the gap as simply as evaluating individual income tax returns.
According to statistics provided by the Executive Yuan Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (主計處), the income disparity, and hence wealth gap, between Taiwan’s top 20 percent and bottom 20 percent is 6.19 times, rather than the 6.34 times in the past, Chaung said. If, instead of households, the records were viewed on an individual basis, then the disparity is 4.25 times; such a figure is lower than that of most developed countries, and is the lowest among Southeast Asian nations — lower than that of Hong Kong, Singapore, mainland China, South Korea, and even Japan, he said. Wealth equality has always been a goal the KMT aims toward, Chuang asserted. The government not only focuses on economic development, but also balances social justice; budgeting to take care of the economically disadvantaged has always been part of governmental policies, he said.
For example, social welfare expenses are the biggest portion in the central government’s overall yearly budget for 2012 — over NT$400 billion, or 21 percent, of the year’s budget is designated to help the needy, Chuang said, reiterating, “this is consistent with the KMT’s attitude of always taking care of those in need.”