Prominent businessmen yesterday urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to conduct “balance sheet” analyses when formulating policy changes, after a recent series of reform measures incurred more losses than benefits.
The business leaders made the plea during a lunch meeting with Ma, whose administration is scrambling to reverse freefalling approval ratings and economic slowdown.
“The government should conduct balance-sheet studies before adopting policy changes as some tax hikes not only failed to boost state coffers, but received a beating on the markets,” former Straits Exchange Foundation head Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) said.
Chiang, who has close ties with government officials and tycoons in Japan and China, was yesterday elected to head the Third Wednesday Club (三三會), a trade group of 58 leading enterprise members who meet for lunch on the third Wednesday of every month.
Chiang cited the capital gains tax on securities investments as an example, saying the levy weakened investor confidence and took a toll on securities transaction taxes.
He also cast doubt over the special sales levy, which has failed to trigger a price correction one-and-a-half years after its implementation — except to depress housing transactions.
Chiang denied reports he is brokering Chinatrust Financial Holding Co’s (中信金控) bid to acquire a majority stake in China’s First Sino Bank (華一銀行) or that he plans to lead Chinatrust Financial at the invitation of Chinatrust Financial chairman Jeffery Koo (辜濂松).
“Those reports are inaccurate,” he said. “Mr Koo is quite healthy and capable himself.”
Kinpo Group (金仁寶集團) chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄) said the government should strengthen efficiency and horizontal communication because many civil servants shun reforms to avoid making mistakes. The mentality drives government agencies to pass the buck and reduces efforts to stimulate economic growth to a bunch of slogans, Hsu said.
Hsu also questioned the wisdom of allowing the Environmental Protection Administration’s environmental impact assessment committee to decide the fate of investment plans, saying the government should have the final say in line with its economic development policy.
Hon Hai Group (鴻海集團) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) suggested Ma seek help from private sector entities such as the Third Wednesday Club to help resolve the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
Gou, who is cooperating with Japanese firms in making TV panels, said Taiwan, Japan and China should set aside the dispute and join hands in exploring resources, as Ma proposed in his doctoral dissertation years ago.
Ma promised to give favorable consideration to the proposal and asked the private sector to support Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) after critics called for a Cabinet reshuffle to boost government efficiency.
Chinatrust Charity Foundation chairman (中信慈善基金) Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) also attended the gathering, but did not answer questions regarding his reported purchase of the Taiwanese edition of the Chinese-language Apple Daily, Sharp Daily, Next Magazine and Next TV Broadcasting Ltd (壹傳媒電視廣播) for NT$17.5 billion (US$600 million) from Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai (黎智英).