■ Tax changes pass first reading
The legislature's Economics and Energy Committee yesterday approved the first reading of the amendments to the Statute for Upgrading Industries (促進產業升級條例), which will increase the taxation on shares given by firms to their employees as bonuses. Bonus shares will be taxed on the basis of 80 percent of their fair market value in the future, rather than the face value of NT$10 per share, according to the bill. The fair market value is based on the average price within one month prior to the issuance of the bonus shares, the draft bill said. The new regulation is subject to further discussion between the government and opposition party lawmakers before the bill is submitted for the second or third reading by lawmakers. Some lawmakers remain worried that the tax regulation may make it difficult for high-tech firms to attract quality manpower.
■ Motech, MEMC in joint project
Motech Industries Inc (茂迪) and MEMC Electronic Materials Inc will jointly build a NT$100 million (US$3.1 million) silicon wafer plant in Taiwan, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday. The paper quoted Motech's chief executive officer Simon Tsuo (左元淮) as saying the plant would be completed in two years, ensuring a supply of silicon wafers to Motech for eight years. Motech is the nation's largest solar cell maker and ranks itself at No. 10 in the world. Motech declined to confirm or deny the details reported by the newspaper. "It's just a direction, so far the details haven't been finalized. We could finalize a deal by the end of June," said an executive who spoke on condition of anonymity. Once the plant is completed, ownership will be transferred completely to MEMC, which makes silicon wafers used in solar cells and semiconductors, the paper said.
■ FSC authority may be stripped
The Cabinet may decide to strip the Financial Supervisory Commission of financial policy-making authority after its chairman, Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝), was suspended earlier this month for alleged corruption in a former position, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday. Financial policy-making authority could be shifted to the Ministry of Finance, the report said. In response, both the commission and the finance ministry were evasive about the issue, but did not deny the report. Minister of Finance Joseph Lyu (呂桔誠) said he respected whatever decision the Cabinet makes. The commission's acting chairman Lu Daung-yen (呂東英) declined to comment on the possibility the commission could be stripped of its authority. There have been discussions about separating financial policy-making and supervision after the commission, which is in charge of both, was formed in 2004.
■ Dragon Steel to boost capacity
Dragon Steel Corp (中龍), an affiliate of the nation's biggest steelmaker China Steel Corp (中鋼), said it will boost the capacity of a planned mill by 25 percent to help increase earnings. The plant, which is under construction in central Taiwan, will be able to produce 2.5 million tonnes of crude steel a year, up from the 2 million previously planned, Dragon Steel said Monday. China Steel and subsidiaries own a total 70 percent in the company. The rise in planned capacity will lift total investment to NT$78.9 billion (US$2.5 billion) from NT$69.8 billion, according to Dragan Steel.