■ Pirated software targeted
The Business Software Alliance in Taiwan said that starting this month, it will take legal action against nearly 100 local computer retailers and enterprises that bought and used pirated software, according to a statement released yesterday. The statement said that seven out of 10 self-assembled computers, or do-it-yourself computers, were installed with unauthorized software and sold to consumers, which is much higher than Taiwan's average piracy rate of 43 percent this year. Therefore, the alliance launched an initiative from April to May 15 asking consumers to report illegal software practices. It received a total of 413 calls from consumers who reported pirating activities, including computer retailers that bought hardware and pirated software, and enterprises that illegally reproduced software and installed it on company computers, the statement said. "The calls reporting wrongdoing we received were double that in normal days, showing the improvement of protection to intellectual property rights under the government's effort," Sung Hong-ti (宋紅媞), chairwoman of the alliance's Taiwan branch, said in the statement.
■ Panel makers to invest in China
Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管), Taiwan's No.3 maker of flat panels, yesterday got the green light to invest US$18 million in a panel assembling company in Fuzhou, China. The company, a joint venture with the world's biggest monitor maker, TPV Technology Ltd (冠捷科技), is scheduled to start operation in October with initial production of 250,000 units a month. Wintek Corp (勝華), which supplies screens primarily for handset giant Motorola Inc, was also approved to invest US$12 million in its Chinese factory in Dongguan, according to a press release from the Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
■ Insurance holders hit high
The number of insurance policies owned by people in Taiwan reached a per capita record high last year, with each person owning an average of 1.7 policies, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS). The number of valid life and pension insurance contracts totaled 166.3 percent of the nation's population as of the end of last year, with average coverage being 3.1 times that of Taiwan's average national income, representing another record high, according to the DGBAS report. For individual insurance, the number of valid life insurance contracts rose to 33.63 million as of the end of last year, up 4.9 percent from a year earlier; injury insurance contracts increased 0.3 percent to 32.89 million; and health insurance contracts climbed 4.3 percent to 42.8 million. The number of valid pension insurance contracts totaled more than 280,000 as of the end of last year. In terms of group insurance, the number of life and health insurance contracts registered an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively, last year, while that of injury insurance contracts was down 3.6 percent.
■ NT dollar declines
The New Taiwan dollar had its weakest close since May 26 on concern the nation's central bank will sell its currency to maintain the competitiveness of its exporters with rivals from South Korea, whose currency closed at a six-week low. "The central bank doesn't like to see the Taiwan dollar appreciating, because of export competitiveness," said Maggie Lee, a currency trader at International Bank of Taipei (台北商銀).