President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he did not see any “green shoots” of recovery for the first half of the year, but was glad public confidence had rebounded.
Ma was speaking to members of the Junior Chamber International Taiwan at the Presidential Office yesterday.
He said the economic situation last month appeared to have improved compared with February, although a complete recovery was not on the cards any time soon.
He said there seemed to be more public confidence than in recent months which was crucial in a time of financial crisis. Taiwan’s foreign reserves exceed US$300 billion, putting the country fourth in world rankings. Its saving rate was nearly 30 percent and 9 percent of the surplus savings could be used in consumption and investment, he said.
Over the past six months, Ma said he visited more than 30 businesses and was impressed by their hard work and ambition.
Ma said the government had announced a number of economic stimulus plans and he hoped the legislature would pass a NT$500 billion (US$14.7 billion) public construction project package this week. With NT$150 billion from the budget going into the economy, Ma said altogether the government would have NT$600 billion to spend on public construction.
“It is a lot of money,” he said. “The more money, the more nervous we are. Now we have the money, people are watching how we will spend it and how effectively we will spend it. It is a big challenge.”
His goal was not only to rejuvenate the economy, but also to see local industries play a pivotal role in a new world economic order in the wake of the global economic crisis.
To that end, Ma said, his administration would boost resources for tourism and leisure, medical care, green energy, cultural creativity, refined agriculture and biotechnology.
While the government has no control over contracted export markets in the US and Europe, Ma said local businesses should diversify their export markets and develop new ones.
It was vital to preserve competitiveness following the new global economic order, he said.