Wed, Jul 02, 2008 - Page 12 News List

New FSC chairman takes office

PLEDGEAs Taiwan’s top financial regulator, Gordon Chen promised to raise the nation’s return on assets during his four-year term. Otherwise, he said, he’ll quit

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Gordon Chen (陳樹), the new head of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), vowed to build Taiwan into a regional financial center, strengthen financial ties with China and continue the consolidation of domestic financial institutions as he assumed office yesterday.

Chen, who replaced Hu Sheng-cheng (胡勝正) as the nation’s top financial regulator, told reporters yesterday that the agency had drawn up more than 100 measures to lift the nation’s financial status on the world stage and would seek Cabinet approval within a week for plans that could be realized in the short term.

The proposed removal of the 40-percent cap on China-bound investment was top on the commission’s agenda, the 54-year-old said, because the government could ease the relaxation unilaterally.

“For issues that require cross-strait negotiation, the FSC will approach them in keeping with the principles of mutual trust, parity and reciprocity,” Chen said at the media briefing.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration has sought to expand cross-strait financial exchanges by allowing Taiwanese banks and securities firms to open branches in China, among other things.

Toward that end, Chen said that he and his colleagues would strive to establish a cross-strait financial supervisory and regulatory mechanism promptly, but added that there was no timetable.

With a doctorate in business administration from National Taiwan University, Chen has a string of financial credentials. He has worked as vice minister of finance, chairman of the Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance, chairman of Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp, chairman of the Securities and Futures Institute and board member for several banks.

Although the financial services sector contributed NT$1.26 trillion (US$41.51 billion), or 10.04 percent, to the GDP last year, Chen said the industry has ample room for growth and pledged to raise its return on assets (ROA) to 1 percent during his four-year term. Otherwise, he will quit and turn down reappointment, he said.

Chen said he would promote a capital market integration law within a year to combine the trading platforms of financial products, help the financial industry reduce costs and remove boundaries between financial products.

Chen said that the undertaking was crucial to help Taiwan link up with the world and make it a hub for asset management and resource mobilization in the Asia-Pacific region.

Noting that major regional economies — including Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea — have begun to integrate their capital markets, the new FSC chief said Taiwan must speed up its efforts to avoid being left behind.

Chen also said the new government would continue to push for mergers of banking institutes to address the problem of overbanking in Taiwan. But Chen said that under his leadership, the FSC would not set a target number of companies or spell out a timetable.

“A timetable could serve as an obstacle to pursuing reform, rather than facilitate it,” Chen said, adding that he would respect free market operations.

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