Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Pundits praise possibility of Wu being vice premier

WELL-CONNECTED The TIER chief has close ties with both academic and business leaders and has helped the government with economic policymaking for years

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wu Rong-i, president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, is shown in this file photo as he appeared before the Legislative Yuan on April 28 last year. Wu had been asked to report on the outlook for the economy during a symposium at the legislature on the Ten New Major Construction Projects.


Well-connected in both academic and industrial circles, Wu Rong-i (吳榮義), president of Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER, 台經院) would be a suitable choice for vice premier, pundits said yesterday.

"He is no egghead from academia's ivory towers," said Chen Po-chih (陳博志), chairman of Taiwan Thinktank.

Wu is currently an adviser to the Taiwan Thinktank.

Chen said that Wu has long been a mastermind behind the economic and financial policy-making process for both the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and the Democratic Progressive Party's administration, so he was no stranger to the state machine.

As head of TIER, the 65-year-old Wu has acted as both a national policy adviser and a top economic adviser to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) since 2003. He is also responsible for conducting research on the government's major economic and financial schemes.

"His biggest achievement at TIER is that he's capable of recruiting top-notch economic staff and integrating their opinions," Chen Po-chih said, adding that Wu's academic connections would be a plus as vice premier.

Wu holds a doctorate in economics from the Catholic University Leuven in Belgium. He specialized in macroeconomics while a visiting scholar at Yale University in Connecticut.

Before taking up the TIER post in 1994, Wu was dean of the economics department at National Chung Hsin University.

He is not only familiar with the nation's economic development, but also the private sector's industrial development, according to Chen Po-chih.

In addition to his closeness with the DPP government, Chen Po-chih said, Wu has kept up close relations with the business community and is pretty familiar with concerns of the private sector. Many business leaders had urged the government to nominate an entrepreneur from the private sector for the post of vice premier.

Earl Ho (侯貞雄), chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries (工總), which represents some 90,000 companies, extended a welcome to his old friend to take up the new post.

Meanwhile, Chen Cheng-yi (陳正毅), spokesman for the General Chamber of Commerce (全國商總), said that he expects Wu to complement Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who doesn't have a financial or economic background.

"Wu should be able to assist Hsieh and put together an economic blueprint with a new vision to upgrade the local economy, which would also meet the private sector's demands," Chen said.

Chen Po-chih said that Wu's efforts in fostering the nation's economic diplomacy with the world's business community also highly recommended him.

Wu has been working closely with prominent economic and business leaders, such as Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) chairman Jeffrey Koo (辜濂松), in taking part in regional economic organizations.

For example, he was a member of the Eminent Persons Group to APEC. He is currently secretary- general of Chinese Taipei Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee while chairing the local Secretariat of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

Wu is a well-polished and seasoned economic thinker, who is also media-savvy, one of his former students said yesterday.

"He is an economist with both principle and flexibility," said Chu Yun-peng (朱雲鵬), who is head of National Central University's Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development.

Wu was one of Chu's advisers on his master's degree committee.

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