■ Cabinet seeks lower land taxes
The Ministry of Finance said yesterday that the proposal to permanently lower land-value incremental tax rates was passed by the Cabinet on Thursday, and will be submitted to the legislature for review. The proposal, drafted by the ministry and was submitted in October to the Cabinet, stipulates to cut the land-value incremental tax rates from the current 40 percent, 50 percent and 60 percent to 20 percent, 30 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The tax break initiative was proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who had previously vowed to permanently reduce the land value incremental tax by 50 percent to stir local property market.
■ Bond sales to go toward deficit
The government will boost first-quarter bond sales by two-fifths from the previous three months to help plug the budget deficit. The government will sell NT$150 billion (US$4.7 billion) of bonds in the quarter ending March 31, a 43 percent increase from the fourth quarter, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Thursday. The ministry's Department of National Treasury plans to auction NT$40 billion of two-year bonds on Jan. 4; NT$40 billion of 5-year bonds on Jan. 19, NT$30 billion of 20-year bonds Feb. 22; and NT$40 billion of 10-year bonds March 11, according to the statement. The bond sale plan comes as the government faces a budget deficit forecast of NT$292.9 billion for next year, compared with an estimated shortfall of NT$304 billion this year. The first-quarter bond sale amount is unchanged from the same period this year.
■ CAL denies purchase deal
China Airlines (華航), the nation's largest air carrier, denied a report saying it planned to order new planes from Airbus SAS. Taipei's Economic Daily News reported earlier today China Airlines may buy 10 A340-600s to replace older Boeing Co planes, in an order worth at least US$1.8 billion. The newspaper didn't say where it obtained the information. "We haven't made any decision on the amount and model for future purchases of planes," the Taipei-based airline said in a statement. "We don't have any preferred airplane maker." China Airlines ordered 14 Airbus A330s and 10 Boeing 747-400s in 2002 as it sought to rebuild its reputation, following its fifth crash in 11 years in May that year. The carrier is expanding its fleet as more residents travel and the nation's exports grow.
■ Evergreen founder won't retire
The Evergreen Group (長榮集團), which owns Asia's largest container shipping company, denied group chairman and Founder Chang Yung-fa (張榮發) will retire on Jan. 1 next year. "The chairman will still be here, although he's fully delegating his authority," Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維), spokesman for the group, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Nieh's remarks came after the United Daily News reported Thursday that Chang, 77, will retire from the group's main units Jan. 1 next year and will be succeeded by his third son, Chang Kuo-cheng (張國政). Chang Kuo-cheng is currently chairman of Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運), Asia's biggest container shipper. His younger brother Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒), currently vice president of EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空), Taiwan's second-biggest airline, will be promoted to president of the carrier on Jan. 1 next year, the company said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.