Tue, Jul 29, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Magazine rates cities, counties

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Among the nation's major cities and counties, the top 10 most competitive ones are Taipei City, Hsinchu County, Taichung City, Hsinchu City, Taoyuan County, Taipei County, Penghu County, Miaoli County, Hualien County and Ilan County, a survey conducted by the Chinese-language Commonwealth magazine (天下雜誌) concluded yesterday.

"There still exits a serious development gap among the nation's 25 largest cities and the counties since the most competitive ones are located north of central Taiwan," Chen Yi-shan (陳一珊), a senior reporter at the magazine, said yesterday.

The least competitive city is Keelung, while most of the least competitive cities and counties are in southern Taiwan, including Yunlin County, Chiayi County and Kaohsiung County, Chen said.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Miaoli County Commissioner Fu Hsueh-peng (傅學鵬), Penghu County Commissioner Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉), Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) and Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chan (蘇貞昌) won the highest approval ratings among all local government leaders, the survey showed.

But all local governments complain about being under budgeted, the survey said.

"Taipei citizens are the poorest since the city has incurred the most debts over the past three years, while its revenue income is contracting," Ma said during a seminar after the survey was presented.

The magazine's survey said that citizens in Taipei and Kaohsiung are the most debt-ridden, carrying an average debt of over NT$50,000 per person.

Ma's complaints were immediately echoed by Fu, Lai and Ilan County Commissioner Liu Shou-cheng (劉守成), who argued that the central government should find ways to help finance local governments.

The central government's tax erosion has decreased its subsidies to local governments, which found it very difficult to impose new local taxes since the central government has been using tax-cuts as an incentive to attract business investments, Fu said.

Despite the current economic downturn and financial difficulties, Ma vowed to build Taipei into a world-class city with a focus on cultivating culture and encouraging the development of value-added high-tech industries in the Nankang and Neihu districts and the newly emerging conference industry in the Hsinyi District.

Eyeing tourism development, Fu said that Miaoli county's Hakka cultures will be its selling points, while Lai urged the central government to "look west" and allow Chinese and people from Hong Kong and Macau to make sight-seeing excursions to Taiwan.

Having succeeded in attracting over a million visitors to Ilan's International Children's Folklore and Folkgame Festival (宜蘭國際童玩節) and Green Expo (綠色博覽會), Liu said that the county earns a net income of NT$100 million annually, bringing in NT$1.5 billion in commercial opportunities for local businesses.

"Ilan still needs to improve traffic controls and improve incentives for investors," Liu said.

Taichung has the highest crime rate, according to the survey, while Nantou County has the highest suicidal rate and Keelung has the highest unemployment rate.

Sixty-one indicators, including economic competitiveness, government efficiency, quality of life and societal vibrancy were considered in the survey, which was based on a questionnaire returned by over 10,000 respondents, the magazine said.

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