Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet prepares emergency measures

MAINTAINING STABILITY The Cabinet has set up an ad hoc, 13-member, inter-ministerial committee to manage any problems a US war on Iraq might bring

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to cope with the fallout of a possible US attack against Iraq, the Executive Yuan yesterday unveiled measures to ensure political, financial and economic stability.

Vice Premier Lin Hsin-yi (林信義), who presided over the first meeting of the ad hoc, 13-person task force, told a news conference last night that the measures would focus on seven areas.

"First of all, the Ministry Economic Affairs will make sure that the state-owned Chinese Petroleum Corp (中石). obtains oil supplies from various sources and constantly monitors stockpiles to ensure adequate supplies," Lin said.

Some 70 percent of Taiwan's crude oil is imported from the Middle East, about 18 percent of which is from Iraq.

While the government requires refiners to hold inventories equal to 60 days of demand, Chinese Petroleum Corp claimed yesterday that it has enough crude oil, gasoline and other fuels to meet demand for 120 days. That inventory, however, includes supplies that are in transit.

On the financial front, Lin said that the government may use the Cabinet's financial stability fund to stabilize the stock market.

The central bank may also step in to intervene in the foreign exchange market and provide sufficient liquidity to local banking institutions if necessary.

To avoid any disruption to trade with foreign trading partners, the finance ministry will help local exporters and importers obtain short-term financial aid if necessary while the transportation ministry may provide subsidies for insurance if necessary to shippers and airlines in the interests of safety.

In addition, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Council of Agriculture and Fair Trade Commission will ensure sufficient supplies of food and daily items. State-owned enterprises such as Chinese Petroleum Corp. and Taiwan Power Co. (台電) would not take advantage of the opportunity to hike oil and electricity prices, Lin said.

To continue economic growth, Lin said the Cabinet's Council for Economic Planning and Development will continue to push forward the economic initiatives mapped out in the six-year national development project.

Finally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission will make efforts to protect the safety of Taiwanese expatriates and help them return to Taiwan if it becomes necessary.

The task force will hold meetings on a weekly basis and call provisional meetings if necessary. Meeting results will also be made available to the media and public.

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