Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday received a National Development Council briefing on the recent achievements of Taiwan's overall economy. Although the global economy was severely impacted by the pandemic, Taiwan's economy bucked the trend by exhibiting growth. The government will share the rewards of the nation's economic growth with the people, the premier said, and will continue to push for higher salaries, lower taxes and increased social benefits.
Taiwan's economy continued to grow even as the world's economies were heavily impacted by the spread of COVID-19, the premier said. Taiwan was the only one among the world's major economies to post a higher economic growth rate in 2020. In 2021, its economic growth rate reached an 11-year high of 6.45% and GDP per capita surpassed US$30,000 for the first time. Based on purchasing power parity, Taiwan ranked eighth in comparison with the 38 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development—placing ahead of Japan and South Korea, as well as the U.K., France, Germany and Australia. Furthermore, Taiwan's 2021 domestic investment as a percentage of GDP reached a 21-year high, while total export value and export orders surpassed US$400 billion and US$600 billion, respectively, both historic highs marking 22 and 25 consecutive months of positive growth.
The government will share the fruits of economic growth with the people, the premier pledged. It has hiked national minimum wages six years in a row, with this year's increase being the largest in 15 years. This year also saw the largest pay raise for public-sector employees in 25 years. Additionally, the budget to counter declining birth rates grew sixfold from NT$15 billion (US$503.9 million) to NT$85 billion (US$2.9 billion), while the long-term care budget swelled twelvefold from NT$5 billion (US$168 million) to more than NT$60 billion (US$2 billion). Fertility treatment subsidies were expanded, with 22,000 people having benefitted so far. Monthly child care allowances will double from NT$2,500 (US$84) to NT$5,000 (US$168) this August. Moreover, the government expanded the size of its rent subsidy program to NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) to benefit nearly 60 percent or 500,000 of the nation's renter households.
Aside from bolstering the economy, the government has maintained strict fiscal discipline. For four years straight, the central government has run a budget surplus of over NT$100 billion (US$3.4 billion) per year, with last year's figure reaching a record-high of almost NT$300 billion (US$10.7 billion). Debt repayment also climbed to a 20-year high of NT$120 billion (US$4.3 billion).
Taiwan has been affirmed by international organizations for achievements in a broad range of areas, the premier continued. In the Corruption Perception Index released January by Transparency International, Taiwan placed 25 out of 180 countries surveyed, its best showing since the index was first published in 1995. In the Democracy Index published February by the U.K.'s Economic Intelligence Unit, Taiwan was named a "full democracy" for the second straight year while rising to first place in Asia and eighth out of 167 countries. In the Index of Economic Freedom published by U.S. think tank The Heritage Foundation, Taiwan entered the "Free" category for the first time; only seven countries out of 184 surveyed reached this top category, and Taiwan ranked sixth, the only such country with a population of over 20 million. Last year S&P Global Ratings raised Taiwan's sovereign credit rating to AA and again to AA+ this April, Taiwan's best showing in 21 years. On May 2, Taiwan was named the third-best investment destination in the world in this year's first investment environment risk assessment report published by U.S.-based Business Environment Risk Intelligence, an improvement over last year's performance.