Sat, Nov 24, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Premier defends GDP growth projection

By Flora Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday defended the government's rosy economic growth forecast for this year, saying the figure can stand scrutiny.

"[The Cabinet] would not fabricate [the number]," Chang said when fielding questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) during the an interpellation session in the legislature.

"The number does not lie," he said, adding that the economic growth forecast made by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics was based on real figures.

Lin was questioning Chang over the government announcement on Thursday raising this year's GDP growth forecast to 5.46 percent, from its previous estimate of 4.58 percent growth. Lin said the upward adjustment was purely for election show.

"Commodity prices are soaring, but salaries are not. The public is feeling the pain and can't feel this so-called `economic growth,'" Lin said, while accusing the government of faking the number in hopes of improving the Democratic Progressive Party's chances in next year's elections.

Earlier yesterday, KMT Legislator Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠) said the government's revised economic forecast was meant to create "pseudo-prosperity."

Speaking at a press conference, Lee accused the government of manipulating currency exchange and interest rates to benefit certain export industries and groups of people, while ignoring the plight of the public.

Chang, however, defended the government's action, saying it is concerned about the widening gap between the rich and the poor, adding that the Cabinet has devoted efforts to finding a solution to the problem.

Meanwhile, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said he was confident that the nation could reach its economic growth forecast of 5.46 percent.

Speaking at a meeting of the Rotary Club in Taipei County, Chen said he had attained the goal he had set when running for the presidency in 2004 -- raising research and development expenditures to 3 percent of GDP, reducing the average unemployment rate to below 4 percent and lifting the average economic growth rate to more than 5 percent.

"I felt encouraged because I fulfilled my promise," the president said.

Exports were expected to hit a new record high of US$2.69 billion last month and reach US$25 billion for the full year, Chen said.

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