Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Replace Liu and save the economy

By Chang Hua-kuan 張花冠

A special budget bill that would increase spending on infrastructure to stimulate the economy will soon be submitted to the legislature, but almost all the proposed projects aim only to “strengthen” existing construction projects.

This shows that the government does not take special budgets seriously.

Last year, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration passed a NT$114 billion (US$3.29 billion) budget to enhance infrastructure and expand domestic demand. The NT$58.3 billion designated for expanding domestic demand was projected to increase GDP growth by 0.45 percentage points to 4.8 percent. But GDP growth did not increase, and the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said the economy contracted 8.36 percent last quarter. GDP growth for last year was 0.12 percent.

The Ma government pushed for the special budget, but it led the nation into an embarrassing economic predicament. We have to ask ourselves whether Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) is qualified to lead the Cabinet.

The biggest problem with the government’s economic policies is that they are on the wrong track. On one hand, the government has run into debt with its old-fashioned promotion of infrastructure projects. On the other hand, it continues to portray China as a panacea for the economy.

The government is oblivious to the fact that amid the global economic crisis, they could take action and plan Taiwan’s future economic development.

US President Barack Obama has proposed investing US$150 billion over 10 years to develop green energy and create 5 million “green-collar” jobs. The US is taking the opportunity to establish new industries and create new job opportunities.

By contrast, instead of preparing for future industry rivalry between Taiwan and China, all the Ma administration is doing is relying the remaining strengths of the economy to hide the unemployment problem.

The NT$500 billion budget to be spent over four years will only be meaningful if it spurs the development of our industries.

Being a government with no core principles whatsoever, the Ma administration’s policies simply seek to get the country through the economic crisis. But if China continues to absorb core skills from Taiwanese high-tech industries and increases the value of its products, Taiwan will be in no position to compete.

Liu should be replaced because it is obvious that he couldn’t revive the nation’s sluggish economy even if he had NT$1 trillion to do so.

Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) recently confessed that he was worried the ministry might not be able to spend all of its budget. This shows that all Liu can do is allocate money recklessly. He is incapable of improving the economy.

Ma has pinned Taiwan’s future on signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with China, but he has failed to map out the prospects for domestic industries under such a framework.

A government that does nothing but advocate reliance on China to boost our struggling economy will seriously damage the nation’s future.

Chang Hua-kuan is a Democratic Progressive Party legislator.

TRANSLATED BY TED YANG

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