Sat, May 24, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business briefs

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

More lottery draws urged

KMT legislator Chang Chang-tsai (張昌財) suggested yesterday that the TaipeiBank (台北銀行) to increase the number of lottery draws per week from two to four and donate the additional proceedings for the purchase of medical supplies for medical staffers fighting SARS.

The government has allocated NT$50 billion to fight SARS, but the fund needs to go through administrative procedures that cannot meet the need of various hospitals that are in critical shortage of medical goods, Chang said.

By holding two more lotto draws per week, the bank can stimulate people's interest in gaming and immediately relieve equipment deficiencies at hospitals, Chang said.

However, Chai Hsiao-pi (翟小畢), associate manager of TaipeiBank, said the bank cannot make the decision because it only holds the games and allocates the lottery income in accordance with regulations from the Ministry of Finance's Bureau of Monetary Affairs.

The bureau could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Fund sells China Steel shares

The government sold US$132.35 million worth of shares in China Steel Corp (中鋼), its first sale of stock in the nation's biggest steelmaker for six years, FinanceAsia magazine's Web site reported, citing no one.

The National Stabilization Fund sold about 12 million global depositary receipts representing a 2.58 percent stake in China Steel, the Web site reported. That's the last of the fund's shares in the steelmaker.

Each GDR represents 20 locally trade China Steel shares. Citigroup Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc managed the sale, the Web site said.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, which once owned all of China Steel's shares, has lowered its holdings in the company since the late 1980s. The latest sale was the third chance for foreign investors to purchase shares in China Steel.

China making more cellphones

China, the world's biggest mobile-phone market by users, produced about 82 percent more handsets than were sold domestically in March. Domestic producers gained market share at the expense of overseas rivals.

Motorola Inc, Ningbo Bird Co and other manufacturers turned out 13.8 million cellphones in March, a 21 percent rise from February, said CCID Datasource Co, a unit of the phone ministry, in a research report.

In China, phone makers sold 6.8 million handsets for the global system for mobile communications, the country's dominant wireless standard, for 11.1 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion), said the monthly report. Domestic companies had 47 percent of the market, up from 45 percent in February.

Massive tax shortfall forecast

The government faces a tax shortfall of NT$100 billion (US$2.9 billion) if the spread of SARS continues, a local newspaper reported, citing Minister of Finance Lin Chuan (林全).

The government may need to sell an unspecified amount of debt this year to help make up for the shortage of revenue, the report said, adding that the government is considering amendments to laws that would allow it to raise the limit on the amount of debt it is allowed to sell.

Standard & Poor's in December lowered Taiwan's credit rating to "AA-." The agency said how the country deals with SARS will be a factor in its assessing of the nation's credit rating.

NT dollar stays weak

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday remained weak against its US counterpart, falling NT$0.017 to close at NT$34.707 on the Taiwan foreign exchange market. Turnover was US$463 million.

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