The “Invest in Taiwan” project managed by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) might not be able to bring in the investment it had forecast because of a lack of corporate commitment, legislators said yesterday.
The council wrapped up its latest round of US road shows last week by signing three memorandums of understanding worth US$100 million, the council’s data showed.
Since August last year, the council has sponsored three overseas investment road shows — the first in Singapore last November and the second in India in February — and said it has attracted more than NT$1.1 trillion (US$38 billion) in potential investment thus far.
However, lawmakers said the council’s investment figures looked like “castles in the air.”
“The public should not be misled that the huge amount of potential investment will materialize completely, as the memorandums of understanding the council signed with interested companies did not actually make any commitments,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) said during a question-and-answer session of yesterday’s Economics Committee meeting.
Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) said she was confident that the project would be a positive driver of investment growth, forecasting — a best case scenario — that about 80 percent of the potential capital would eventually be invested.
“However, everything really depends on the arrangement and cooperation between different government agencies, with the council acting as the pioneer and the Ministry of Economic Affairs ensuring the capital comes into the nation,” Liu said during the question-and-answer session.
The ministry’s data showed that the Investment Commission only approved US$3.81 billion in foreign investment in Taiwan last year, with US$1.06 billion in the first quarter of this year — evidence of a huge difference from the investment claims made by the council, legislators said.
Liu said the figures released by the commission only include bigger cases, instead of reflecting the real situation with a lot of smaller investments.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the council should have announced a specific investment goal ahead of the three road shows, avoiding the public’s negative sentiment that “the road show was just like an overseas travel plan.”
The council plans to hold its fourth road show in Japan between August and September, and host a local show for Taiwanese businesspeople in Asia on July 19.
Meanwhile, Liu also suggested that the government continue selling shares in state-owned enterprises to enhance its efficiency.
Taiwan’s government efficiency rating dropped four places to 10th in the latest annual report released by the International Institute for Management Development, amid rising concern over businesses being hindered by bureaucracy and state-owned enterprises.
“For companies like Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), of which the government still holds the majority stake, but has been undergoing privatization, the government should keep selling shares to prevent them hindered by bureaucracy,” Liu said.
However, even if the government decides to implement this policy, it should wait for the legislature to unfreeze the former resolution that restricted the government from selling state-owned shares first, Liu said.