Tue, Apr 23, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Government keeps treading water

By Huang Tzu-wei 黃子維

On Tuesday last week, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said that Taiwan had been hit by a succession of domestic and external challenges.

He said the economy had been hampered domestically by industries’ inability to transform and upgrade, which in turn had held wages down for a long time.

The unemployment rate had stayed at about 4 percent in recent years, and yet many industries still suffered from chronic labor shortages, he said.

These factors caused Taiwan’s economy to remain sluggish, he said.

Externally, Jiang said that the European sovereign debt crisis that erupted last year was still going on.

In addition, major economies such as the US, China, India and Russia had not bounced back as strongly as one might have hoped.

Looking back at the press release published by the Cabinet on Sep. 17 last year about the stimulus package that it called the “Economic Power-Up Plan,” the first paragraph listed external factors influencing Taiwan’s economy, including the global chaos caused by the European financial crisis — which caused lower than expected economic growth in industrialized nations — a drop-off in growth in new markets such as China and a fall in exports resulting from moves toward regional economic integration that do not include Taiwan.

It also lists domestic problems such as imbalances in economic and industrial structure and mismatched supply and demand of manpower.

So the Cabinet is now repeating almost word for word the reasons it used to explain Taiwan’s poor economic performance seven months ago.

Looking at the four premiers who have served under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) since 2008, Sean Chen’s Cabinet was viewed by the public as the most competent in financial affairs.

Jiang served as vice premier in that Cabinet and Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), who is now minister of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, played a major role in drawing up the “Economic Power-Up Plan.”

What this shows is that the government wants to promote economic growth, but is incapable of doing it, yet all Kuan can say about it is that the government feels “depressed.”

If any solution is to be found, the first thing that should be done is to review the performance of the “Economic Power-Up Plan” in the seven months since it was launched.

If we choose instead to just go back to square one every time a new premier is appointed, the government will just keep running in place and its performance will never improve.

Huang Tzu-wei is a researcher at the Taiwan Thinktank.

Translated by Drew Cameron

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