Sat, Mar 15, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Outgoing minister says he has no regrets

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Outgoing Minister of Finance Ho Chih-chin (何志欽) yesterday said he had no regrets about stepping down.

"Having served the country is the biggest source of pride in my life," Ho told finance officials at a farewell party at the ministry yesterday.

Expressing his gratitude to his subordinates at the ministry, Ho said that he was proud to have played a part in the ministry's achievements in striking a balance between the government's revenue and expenditure.

After years of deficits, the central government had a NT$16.6 billion (US$540 million) surplus in 2006 and a NT$68 billion surplus last year under his 20-month tenure, said Ho, who had given up his US citizenship before taking the post.

After taking some rest, Ho said, he may choose to resume his teaching job at National Taiwan University.

Acting finance minister Lee Ruey-tsang (李瑞倉), who hosted the party, said that Ho's tax expertise had made great contributions to the ministry.

"It will be very difficult for taxpayers to evade taxes once the ministry's new taxation system has been fully implemented," he said.

The new system, which had been facilitated under Ho's leadership, will enhance efficiency in tracking earnings for taxation, Lee said.

Meanwhile, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said yesterday that his decision to approve Ho's resignation a day earlier had been made reluctantly.

Chang said he had rejected several previous resignation letters Ho had tendered for various reasons, but approved the latest one because he agreed with Ho that he had to take responsibility for a scuffle that broke out at Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) campaign headquarters on Wednesday.

Chang made the remarks in response to a report in the Chinese-language China Times that the premier had rebuked Ho immediately after the incident, prompting Ho to resign the next day.

Giving in to pressure from four Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, Ho had accompanied the lawmakers on a visit to Hsieh's campaign headquarters in Taipei.

The lawmakers visited the campaign office, located in a building belonging to First Financial Holding Co (第一金控), in an attempt to determine whether the state-run bank had illegally waived the rental fees for the office.

The legislators' intrusion triggered strong displeasure among Hsieh's supporters, who considered the move provocative. Physical clashes broke out when the supporters tried to prevent the lawmakers from leaving the building under police escort.

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