More loans for homebuyers \n \nPremier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday decided to extend the preferential mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers, allocating NT$280 billion for the program which will benefit approximately 154,000 households. \nThe loan' s interest rate will be 2.3 percent -- 1.48 percent less than mortgage loans offered by banks. \nAccording to the Cabinet, the loan policy has benefited a total of 434,663 homebuyers since it was launched in 2000 and generated NT$79.1 billion in tax income to government coffers. \nOfficials said the policy has propped up the local property market and stimulated spending on household furnishings. \nThey said first-time homebuyers spent an average of NT$750,000 furnishing their home, which contributed to a 0.76 percent economic growth in 2001 and 1.05 percent growth last year. \nTAIFEX signs pact with CBOT \n \nThe Taiwan Futures Exchange (TAIFEX) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), the world' s largest future market. \nDuring the signing ceremony, TAIFEX chairman Sam Wang (王得山) said that the partnership will facilitate information exchange between the two future markets. \nHe said that CBOT has a lot of new financial products and expertise in enhancing the market's turnover that TAIFEX can learn from. \nPact with El Salvador signed \n \nThe government signed a cooperation agreement with El Salvador yesterday, pledging to redress that country's trade imbalance with Taiwan. \nChina External Trade Development Council Chairman Hsu Chi-jen (許志仁) signed the agreement with El Salvador's Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Eugenia Brizuela de Avila. \nCouncil officials said that in view of the trade surpluses enjoyed over a long period of time by Tai-wan with the five Central American countries, the government has decided to promote imports from those countries and investment in the countries by Taiwanese manu-facturers in a bid to redress the imbalances. \nThe officials said exports to El Salvador totaled US$70.78 million for 2001, down from US$87.66 million for 2000, while imports into Taiwan from El Salvador increased from US$532,000 in 2000 to US$1.177 million in 2001. \nCDIC inks MOU with KAMCO \nThe Central Deposit Insurance Corp (中央存保) signed a memorandum of understanding with its South Korean counterpart yesterday to establish formal ties. \nTsay Chin-tsair (蔡進財), chairman of the Central Deposit, noted that South Korea suffered a deterioration in both its financial and corporate sectors during the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and saw a sharp rise non-performing loans as a result. \nThe Korea Asset Management Corporation (KAMCO) was reorganized in 1997 and put in charge of handling non-performing bank loans. \nKAMCO has adopted aggressive measures to effectively resolve the non-performing loan problem, Tsay said. \n"Taiwan can learn from South Korea's experience," Vice Minister of Finance Susan Chang (張秀蓮) said. \nNT dollar holds its ground \n \nThe New Taiwan dollar remained strong against its US counterpart, up NT$0.021 to close at NT$34.217 on the Taipei foreign exchange market Friday. Turnover was US$1.01 billion. \nMorgan Stanley expects the NT dollar to rise to NT$33.50 against its US counterpart by the end of the year, said Andy Xie (謝國忠), Hong Kong-based chief economist at Morgan Stanley.
UNDERESTIMATED: The agency said that as its previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis, it did not adequately account for disruptions caused by the pandemic The nation’s economy might grow just 1.67 percent this year squarely on the back of government expenditure and private investment, as exports and consumer spending have stalled, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. The forecast is a sizeable retreat from an estimate of 2.37 percent growth made in February before the COVID-19 outbreaks became a pandemic. “The previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis in 2003 and therefore underestimated the ongoing pandemic, which is hitting economic activity hard at home and abroad,” DGBAS Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a media briefing in Taipei. The agency now expects exports
‘SUSCEPTIBLE’: The timing of an intervention, rather than the amount of money injected to the market, is more important, the deputy minister of finance said The National Stabilization Fund would remain on stand-by to shore up the local bourse until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided worldwide, Deputy Minister of Finance Frank Juan (阮清華) said yesterday. Although Taiwan has stopped the virus’ spread, the fund would remain active in light of fragile financial markets across the world, said Juan, the state-run fund’s executive secretary. The government activated the fund on March 20 after the TAIEX slumped from 12,000 points to 8,600 in a short period amid a panic selloff. The main board has since recovered, yesterday closing at 10,997.21 points on turnover of NT$180.767 billion (US$6.03 billion), Taiwan
Domestic banks saw first-quarter net profits from their Hong Kong branches shrink 25 percent on an annual basis to NT$4.8 billion (US$159.83 million), the first drop in the past four years, due to higher loan-loss provisions and lower interest income, Financial Supervisory Commission data showed. Local banks’ branches in the financial hub saw interest income fall after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in March lowered its base interest rate to 0.86 percent, compared with 2.75 percent a year earlier, the data showed. Those branches set more loan-loss provisions out of concerns that some loans might turn sour due to the COVID-19 pandemic
‘EXTERNAL VULNERABILITY’: The city-state’s economy in the first quarter shrank 4.7 percent quarterly due to worsening external demand outlook amid the pandemic Singapore’s embattled economy could shrink by as much as 7 percent this year, which would be the worst reading since independence in 1965, with the government saying yesterday that the COVID-19 pandemic had throttled the key export sector. The Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry’s forecast — which was a downgrade from the 4 percent contraction predicted in March — came as official data showed that the economy shrank 0.7 percent year-on-year in the first three months of the year, while it contracted 4.7 percent from the previous quarter. The ministry said the new estimate was made “in view of the deterioration