Thu, May 20, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Economics minister says goodbye

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Outgoing Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Yi-fu, right, and his wife wave goodbye to his colleagues at the ministry yesterday. He will be sworn in as minister without portfolio today.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-TEH, TAIPEI TIMES

Carrying bouquets and blessings from colleagues, outgoing Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Yi-fu (林義夫) yesterday said farewell to the ministry he has run for the past two years.

"I'm very grateful for the efforts of the whole ministry staff ... Without their hard work, we would have not accomplished what we have during the past two years," Lin said.

Lin accepted an offer on Tuesday from Premier Yu Shyi-kun to serve as minister without portfolio, starting today.

"I hope to play a role as a good policy-maker in drafting laws, as well as being an efficient coordinator to resolve disputes among government departments," he said of his new job.

Lin, 62, was promoted to minister from vice minister in March 2002. He became the third economic minister during the first four-year term of Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) administration, after Lin Hsin-i (林信義) and Christine Tsung (宗才怡). Tsung held the post for just 48 days.

Lin joined the ministry in 1966. He was trade representative in Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and Toronto, Canada, between 1972 and 1980 before serving in the Bureau of Foreign Trade between 1990 and 2000.

When Lin took up the vacancy left by Tsung, many speculated that he might not last long because he was a party member of the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

But Lin proved that he is not a temporary actor but a minister who would make many major contributions during his tenure.

"I'm glad to see that Taiwan's economic growth has bounced back from rock bottom last year, along with double-digit growth in the export sector and investment, showing that the supporting measures we've laid are working," Lin said yesterday.

On top of improvements in the economy, Lin said he was proud of several major projects he was responsible for, such as the nation's first free-trade agreement (FTA) with Panama, concluded in August last year.

He also oversaw a rise in foreign investment to US$3.58 billion last year, 9.3 percent up from the previous year.

There were also several setbacks, he recalled. These included the nationwide shortage of water in the fall of 2002, a shortage of construction materials in the second half of last year, the urgent need for anti-SARS resources last summer and the soaring prices of raw materials recently.

"With the cooperation of all the staff in the ministry, we've tackled these difficulties one by one, providing us with invaluable memories of working together," Lin said.

Lin said the most unforgettable part of his career was in the ministry's Bureau of Foreign Trade, when he attended more than 250 negotiations, including about 100 related to Taiwan's entry into the WTO.

The intensive meetings and pressure wore Lin out at that time, he said.

"So I always tell people that I'm a man with no guts," he joked.

Lin's experience in trade activities gives him a good understanding of what businesspeople need, so he can come up with well though-out measures that help the business community, said Rock Hsu (許勝雄), chairman of the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association (電電公會) and chairman of the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei (台北市進出口公會).

"We appreciated his diligence and contributions to the nation's economy, and hope he continues to do well in the new post," Hsu said.

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