■ Bank union moves up strike
Employees of state-run Taiwan Business Bank (台灣企銀) yesterday decided to stage a strike tomorrow, one day ahead of schedule, to protest the bank' s privatization plan. The Taiwan Business Bank Industrial Union said the strike will continue until the management gives a goodwill response, the Central News Agency reported. The union called on other state-run banks not to become management's "accomplice" by serving as backup manpower for the Taiwan Business Bank during the strike. The share sale for Taiwan Business Bank is scheduled for Friday. The Ministry of Finance, however, has said that the results will not be announced until it has had time to review financial consultants' analyses. The ministry will give two of its 12 seats on the bank's board to the successful bidder when the share-swap contract is signed. The government will also gradually release its nearly 40 percent shareholding in the bank and will not create the second-largest private shareholder in compiting with the winning bidder, said Liu Teng-cheng (劉燈城), director general of the National Treasury Agency.
■ APEC to urge energy efficiency
APEC finance ministers will call for greater investment in oil production, improved energy efficiency and further cuts in fuel subsidies to stem gains in crude costs that are threatening economic growth in the region. "We noted the importance of adequate investment in oil production and refining capacity, as well as technology transfer for energy conservation," they said in a Sept. 1 draft of a joint communique to be released after talks this week in Jeju, South Korea. "We welcomed recent actions to reduce demand-distorting subsidies and urged continuation of these efforts." In the communique, obtained by Bloomberg News, the ministers said ties between oil-producing and consuming nations should be strengthened through forums such as the International Energy Forum and the Group of 20 nations. APEC finance chiefs said "sustained" gains in crude-oil costs, which have risen more than 50 percent this year, may hurt economic growth in the region, the communique said.
■ Forex reserves at record high
Foreign exchange reserves rose to a record US$254.09 billion at the end of last month, up from US$253.56 billion in July, the central bank said on Monday. Reserves totalled US$253.62 billion at the end of June and US$253.17 billion at the end of May, the bank said in a statement. The increase mainly reflected interest income and the appreciation of the euro against the US dollar, it said.
■ Building concession offered
The government plans to allow construction companies joining city-redevelopment projects to have a higher floor-area ratio, a Chinese-language newspaper reported, citing Vice Premier Wu Rong-i (吳榮義). Construction companies taking part in such projects within the next three years would be allowed the concession, the paper said, citing Wu. The Council for Economic Planning and Development said on Aug. 15 that it would offer NT$200 billion (US$6.14 billion) in low-cost loans to boost redevelopment in Taipei and other cities. The loans would fund some 50 redevelopment projects, mostly in districts close to rail stations and mass rapid transit centers, the council said.
■ NT dollar slips
The New Taiwan dollar lost ground against its US counterpart yesterday, declining NT$0.164 to close at NT$32.586 on the Taipei foreign exchange market. Turnover was US$1.04 billion, up from US$793 million on Monday.
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