2010/08/15

Poverty in Taiwan at record high: report

TAIPEI, August 15, 2010 (AFP) - The number of Taiwanese households living in poverty rose to a record high of 108,000 in the three months to June despite the continued growth of the economy, it was reported Sunday.

The quarterly figure marked an increase of 10,000 households over a year ago, the Commercial Times said, citing figures compiled by the Ministry of the Interior to be released this week.

In Taipei, a single adult earning under 14,614 Taiwan dollars (457 US) a month is considered to be in poverty, the newspaper said, while the benchmark is slightly lower for the rest of the island.

The ministry blamed an income gap which has been widening despite Taiwan  enjoying a steady recovery from the global economic downturn.

"Relatively speaking, the rich families have benefited from the economic recovery," an unnamed ministry official was quoted as saying.

 The island's economy jumped 13.27 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of this year, growing at its fastest pace in more than 30 years, thanks to strong demand for exports in markets such as China.

The fast growth cements the island's recovery from its worst economic crisis since World War II and was helped by a rebound in world trade after the global downturn.

The figure, which compares with a contraction of more than nine percent in the same period last year, is the highest for Taiwan since the fourth quarter of 1978, the government said.