Minister of Economic Affairs Morgan Hwang (黃營杉) assumed office yesterday, promising to use his expertise in the field to carry out President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "effective management" policy on China-bound investment.
"I haven't heard of any government in the world that does not need to manage its [investment] policies," Hwang said at the swearing-in ceremony.
"I admire President Chen's wisdom in announcing the policy," he said.
Hwang, a former dean of the Business School at National Taipei University, said that the ministry could only carry out government policy efficiently if there is a system of effective management in place.
"It's like running a service company. I hope our staff will treat companies and workers as target customers and fulfill their needs with an enterprising spirit," Hwang said.
He said that he would not take sides on the issue of whether to tighten or loosen cross-strait business ties by implementing Chen's policy of "active opening, effective management."
Hwang said that he would need some time to familiarize himself with the ministry's operation before mapping out what to do to achieve the best outcome for the local economy.
"Effective management is not tantamount to restricting business development; it's about creating a favorable environment for business to grow," he said.
Saying that frequent personnel shake-ups usually lead to policy inconsistency, Hwang promised to continue the policies that were set by his predecessors.
Instead of working on new ideas, he would ponder measures to execute the plans more effectively, he said.
In addition to reassuring local and foreign business communities on the government's attitude toward cross-strait relations, another thorny issue awaiting Hwang is the proposal to raise water and electricity rates, which remains undecided despite being discussed over the terms of several of his predecessors.
As the former chairman of state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), Hwang
was reluctant to comment on this issue yesterday, saying merely that he
would announce his decision after looking into the case.
Although Taipower has reported annual pre-tax earnings of NT$828 million
(US$25.9 million) on the back of cost savings, the company said on Monday
that it may lose NT$23 billion this year due to the soaring costs of
imported coal and oil, making the rate-hike issue more urgent.
In response to reporters' questions about the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant, Hwang said that since the project has been approved by the Cabinet, the ministry would support it.