Thu, Sep 30, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Business group urges clarity in reforms

STREAMLINING The head of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei said the government should strive for consistency and openness in its financial restructuring drive

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Clarity and consistency are essential to the government's restructuring plan, especially in making organizational changes to the nation's financial authorities, the head of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT) said yesterday.

The foreign business sector hopes the government will quickly clarify who is responsible for what, Guy Wittich, chief executive officer of the ECCT, said in a phone interview.

"We also hope the government will implement the restructuring in a consistent way," Wittich said, referring to a government draft bill that would return financial policymaking rights to the Ministry of Finance from the newly-established Financial Supervisory Commission.

"If everybody is doing a bit of something, that's like nobody is doing anything," he said.

The Cabinet approved a draft bill that would return financial policymaking rights to the Ministry of Finance, aiming to streamline governmental organization over the next two years. Under the proposed bill, changes in the commission's financial policymaking rights involving the banking, securities and futures and insurance sectors would take effect after a two-year grace period.

"The decision was made based on the principle of political accountability," Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), head of the Cabinet's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, the agency handling the restructuring, said on the sidelines of a gathering of ECCT members yesterday.

Yeh said the principle of political accountability is compromised by the fact that the commission -- an independent agency enjoying guaranteed tenures -- takes charge of policy formulation without shouldering political responsibility.

Under the current political system, the Executive Yuan is held responsible for any financial policy made by the Financial Supervisory Commission.

Yeh said that taking away the policymaking mechanism from the commission was problematic, and that this issue was still under cross-ministry discussion.

"A clear plan will come out by the end of this year, since the issue has raised a lot of concern," Yeh said.

He stressed that the plan would be formulated based on the principles of not interfering in financial supervisory functions as well as the unification of the nation's financial service policy.

Despite criticism from academics that the government's policy flip-flop could lead to inconsistency between financial policies and supervision in the future, as well as causing problems with personnel allocation, Minister of Finance Lin Chuan (林全) said earlier this week that the move would not interfere with the centralization of financial supervisory power or the planned market liberalization.

He said at the time that it was also necessary to shift some of the manpower of the Monetary Affairs Bureau, Insurance Bureau and Securities and Futures Bureau back to the ministry from the commission after it takes over policymaking power.

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