Tue, Jan 24, 2006 - Page 10 News List

New ministers have tough rows to hoe

POISONED CHALICES Analysts say the relatively little-known incoming ministers of finance and economic affairs will face tough challenges and close public scrutiny

By Jackie Lin and Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTERS

With premier-designate Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) new team to be sworn in tomorrow, the two new ministers of finance and economic affairs will have to show their strength and political wisdom to allay public doubts, pundits said yesterday.

Joseph Lyu (呂桔誠), chairman of the state-run Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行), will replace Lin Chuan (林全) as Minister of Finance, while Morgan Hwang (黃營杉), chairman of the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), will take over from Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) as Minister of Economic Affairs.

"Neither of them are heavyweights but both are entrusted with heavyweight tasks," said Thomas Lee (李桐豪), professor of money and banking at National Chengchi University, in a phone interview.

Their ability to rapidly deal with public affairs and carry out national economic policies will determine how well they stand up to public scrutiny, he added.

Known as a seasoned banker, Lyu's appointment to the finance ministry was viewed by many as odd, since the ministry's main function now is to pursue more fair taxation, while dealing with stake-holdings in state-run financial institutions is a secondary task, Lee said.

But if the legislature passes revisions to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) in the next session to take financial policymaking power away from the Financial Supervisory Commission and give it back to the ministry, then Lyu could develop his expertise in restructuring the financial environment, the professor noted.

However, this could also mean that the ministry's efforts to push through tax reform could fail, despite its initial success in passing the alternative minimum tax late last year.

Lin yesterday threw his full support behind his successor, Lyu, saying that Lyu's rich experience and strong capabilities will help him weather difficulties.

Morgan Hwang (黃營杉)

Education:

* PhD in Business Administration, National Chengchi University

* Master of Business Administration, National Chengchi University

* Bachelor of Economics, National Chung Hsing University

Experience:

* Chairman, Taiwan Power Co

Chairman, Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp

* Dean of Business School, National Taipei University

* Professor and Head of the Department of Business Administration, National Chung Hsing University

* Professor an dChairman of Graduate School of Business Administration, National Chung Hsing University

* CEO, Yu-Tien Machinery Group

General Manager, the China Color Printing Co

* Vice President, Sampo Corporation of America Executive Officer, Ministry of Finance


For his part, Huang will face stiff challenges after taking the helm of the economic affairs ministry, Lee said.

Huang is a former dean of National Taipei University's business school and was an executive at several private companies for more than 20 years.

His experience in chairing the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (台灣菸酒公司) is less applicable to his new job, while his tenure at Taipower was too short to help the political freshman accumulate sufficient capability to lead such a giant ministry, Lee said.

Huang's first challenge will be how to deal with the possible hikes in utility fees after the Lunar New Year, which always triggers dissatisfaction and will give the public a chance to examine his political wisdom, the professor noted.

Meanwhile, foreign business groups also said that they hope the new ministers make their plans for the next two years as soon as possible in order to achieve better policy transparency and stability.

"We expect them to get down to the business quickly, as time is running out," Guy Wittich, chief executive officer of European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT), said in a phone interview yesterday. He cited worries about Taiwan's weakening competitiveness compared with other countries in the region such as South Korea, and slowing economic growth.

With frequent political shakeups, foreign businesspeople expect the government to deliver consistent policy in order to help their business activities here, American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) Executive Director Richard Vuylsteke said.

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