New finance minister keeps low profile

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jan 25, 2006 - Page 10

Incoming Minister of Finance Joseph Lyu (呂桔誠) yesterday appeared cautious when asked how he would approach his new role after taking over from Lin Chuan (林全), who is widely considered as a capable and upright government official.

"I'll hold discussions with the ministry's staff [today] to gain a clear understanding [about the ministry's tasks] before advancing my opinions," said Lyu, who served as chairman of the Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行) until yesterday.

Lyu will assume office today, while Lin will retire. Lin has been invited to serve as an unpaid National Policy Adviser to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

After evading reporters' questions several times at Lin's farewell party yesterday, the tight-lipped Lyu merely said, "I'll do my best" at his own farewell event later in the day.

During Lyu's 575-day chairmanship of the nation's largest lender, the 50-year-old banker was known for strong execution skills and an active management style.

As of Monday, the bank had recorded NT$1.36 trillion (US$42.5 billion) in total lending. The previous high was in 2000, when the century-old bank's loans totaled NT$1.35 trillion.

Its broad-based non-performing loan (NPL) ratio has dropped to under 1.5 percent, and it reported pretax profits of NT$15.2 billion last year, surpassing the statutory budget, Lyu said.