Taiwan gov't denies widening gap between rich, poor

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Ministry of Finance (MOF) yesterday denied allegations that Taiwan's wealth disparity is widening while producing statistics that support the contrary.

According to the MOF, consolidated income tax filings indicate that the wealth disparity among the populace conveyed statistically in vigintiles, or 20-quantiles, indicate that the difference between Taiwan's wealthiest and poorest households in 2011 resided at 94.84-fold. The figure receded to 85.21 times in 2012, said the MOF, while stressing that the measurement outperforms international averages.

The MOF stated that Taiwan does not fare significantly worse than developed nations including the US and Japan, which have similarly high disparities in wealth distribution and a high Gini coefficient -- a statistical measurement of inequality where "0" indicates total equality and "1" indicates a theoretical state in which a single individual has all the wealth.

The MOF remarked that Taiwan's Gini coefficient at 0.35 remains above the 0.4 cautionary benchmark advised by international organisations. In addition, Taiwan's Gini coefficient also improved from figures recorded in 2003. Most notably, the MOF estimates Taiwan's wealth disparity at four to six-fold between the wealthiest and poorest households.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that the MOF will not be publishing the tallied statistics on the wealth disparity of Taiwan in full detail, with data conveyed in vigintiles and deciles, or 10-quantiles. Scholars and academics remarked that the MOF's decision to withhold the data may be due to the fact that wealth disparity indicators are poised to breach the 100-fold mark.