The National Conference on Industrial Development ended yesterday with no concrete conclusion, with Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) saying the ministry would review suggestions raised by participants and come up with a plan within three months.
At a press conference marking the end of the two-day conference, Shih said the Cabinet was reviewing the role of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee and whether the EIA authority should remain under the Environmental Protection Administration.
As for whether the government would ease the regulations for foreign workers to stay in Taiwan and revise other regulations on their working conditions, Shih said the government needed more time to consider the issues.
Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) Director-General Shen Jung-chin (沈榮津) said many business owners had complained that foreign workers have to leave this country when their contracts expire, after they have gained skills and acquired certificates in Taiwan.
As for the planned implementation of a national energy tax, Shih said it was a decision by the Cabinet and the ministry would support gradual implementation of the tax without hurting the competitiveness of local companies.
Shih said the government may also consider extending the duration of tax incentives for research and development from one year to three years and may give special tax treatment to firms setting up headquarters and investing in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen environmental activists angrily stomped out of the conference, complaining loudly that they were not allowed to freely express their opinions at the meeting and describing the government’s conclusions as “pitiful” and “deceiving.”
The activists said many conclusions listed as “collective opinions” in the meeting were actually partial opinions that did not take the civic groups’ different opinions into consideration and therefore should not serve as reference for setting future policies.
Taiwan Water Conservation Alliance spokesperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said the groups had different opinions on issues such as the national land planning act and total pollution quantity management, regulations on establishing industrial parks in areas smaller than 30 hectares and the feasibility of developing areas that suffer from water shortage.
The civic groups said only when pollution prevention measures are thoroughly enforced and the environment protected can industries achieve sustainable development.