Every Ministry Must Promote Full Employment
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 27, 2012
Summary: The attempt to dissolve the cabinet failed. President Ma and the ruling party he heads face even more rigorous challenges. The political picture and social climate are quite clear. The cabinet's response to a string of issues such as gasoline prices and electricity rates over the past six months has left the public disgusted. The public faces a grim situation, including a weak economy and a lack of employment opportunities. The public is impatient with the cabinet's tardy and uninspiring countermeasures. The cabinet cannot afford to continue on its merry way, offering no change, and offering no sound policies. It must rescue the economy, which has hit rock bottom. Otherwise it will have to be changed.
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The attempt to dissolve the cabinet failed. President Ma and the ruling party he heads face even more rigorous challenges. The political picture and social climate are quite clear. The cabinet's response to a string of issues such as gasoline prices and electricity rates over the past six months has left the public disgusted. The public faces a grim situation, including a weak economy and a lack of employment opportunities. The public is impatient with the cabinet's tardy and uninspiring countermeasures. The cabinet cannot afford to continue on its merry way, offering no change, and offering no sound policies. It must rescue the economy, which has hit rock bottom. Otherwise it will have to be changed.
Cabinet members often criticize other ministries. Cabinet members have publicly complained during Executive Yuan meetings that budgets have been cut. Outsiders get the impression that cabinet members are each going their own way, that they are each concerned only about their own lives, that they are each fighting only for their own turf. They do not resemble a team. Therefore the cabinet is the most important challenge. It must have a clear goal. It must have a clear division of labor. This will enable cabinet members to take action, to act like a team, to strive for a common goal.
The current economic and employment situation is particularly grim. We have experienced nine blue economic warning lights in a row. We think the larger objective should be to enhance worker employability, and thereby reduce unemployment. But reducing unemployment should not be the sole responsibility only of the Council of Labor Affairs. It should not be the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council for Economic Planning. It should be the common responsibility of all ministries.
Dividing the labor is not difficult. Some jobs are created by business investment. The government may help or hinder job investment. It all depends on the regulatory and administrative environment. It all depends on a variety of regulatory agencies. For example, the Ministry of Education oversees education. The Ministry of Transport oversees transportation and tourism. The Ministry of Culture oversees cultural undertakings. The Department of Health oversees medical employment. These authorities determine what kind of regulatory environment these industries will face.
For some time now these service industry ministries were given primary responsibility for the "management" of these industries. But the Executive Yuan needs new thinking. These ministries should be required to do more than manage. They also need to promote and assist the businesses they oversee. This includes both for profit and nonprofit entities. They must save existing jobs and create new employment opportunities.
The legal basis for this is well established. Article 4 of the May 2008 Industrial Innovation Act states: "Within one year after the promulgation of this Ordinance... central government industry regulatory agencies shall determine the direction of industrial development and submit industrial development plans to the Executive Yuan for approval and periodic review." It also stipulates that "The central government regulatory agency for each industry shall be responsible for promoting the development of that industry." It has been two years since that announcement was made. But the Executive Yuan has yet to make a serious effort to implement this program. It merely asks various ministries to conduct pro forma documentation. Everyone knows the score.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council for Economic Planning are important. The Ministry of Economic Affairs oversees almost all manufacturing and general business. The CEPD oversees energy research, and the setting of goals for the nation and other ministries. Various cross-ministry political affairs representatives are also important. They are involved in improving the investment environment and making new investments. These require the active participation of cross-ministry political affairs respresentatives.
This mechanism, along with several flagship projects, constitute a point of light. The economy is salvageable. We think the Executive Yuan should seriously consider this mechanism. It should go all out. The international economic conditions may be grim. But faced with the same conditions, certain countries have maintained substantial economic growth. Other countries have experienced economic stagnation, even economic retrogression. The public will forgive a slowdown due to poor international conditions. But they will not tolerate a government that allows us to fall behind neighboring Asian countries. We think this mechanism will help the various ministries to take action. Consider the Council of Agriculture. Its main business was to look after farmers, to ensure the food supply, and to stablize agricultural production and the market order. Recently the Council of Agriculture proposed a creative point of light, called the "New Farmers Return Home Plan." It encourages urban youth to return to the farm to engage in high value-added agriculture, and to reactivate fallow agricultural land. If this plan is fully implemented, it could create new jobs in agriculture, and of course more jobs in general.
The various ministries must take action. From their respective positions, they must each propose plans to create or at least save jobs. Out of gratitude, they may set up project offices, They may help industry heads make investments. They may help them overcome difficulties instead of imposing unwarranted restraints in the name of industry regulation. Investments will be saved. Therefore jobs will be saved.
We hope the Executive Yuan will move in this direction, as soon as possible. It should promote such programs based on their effectiveness. It should assess the efficiency of various ministries. We hope that cabinet members will cease going their own ways. We hope they will keep their eye on the larger goal. We hope that based on their individual goals, they should formulate detailed programs, and implement them in earnest. Perhaps team morale can be restored. Perhaps team spirit can be reborn. This would both fulfill public expectations and assist economic recovery.