Fri, Jun 30, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Finance minister replaced by top NTU economist

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet unexpectedly announced late last night that Minister of Finance Joseph Lyu (呂桔誠) would be replaced by Professor Ho Chih-chin (何志欽), head of the economics department at National Taiwan University.

Lyu, who was appointed to the position only five months ago from chairman of the Bank of Taiwan, will be a minister without portfolio, Cabinet Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said at a press conference.

Lyu has been criticized for his failure to help safeguard the government's influence over state-controlled banks, exemplified by a boardroom tussle at Mega Financial Holding Co last Friday.

"Lyu has insisted on leaving the position several times, although Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had not agreed to this," Cheng said, without elaborating.

A high-level source at the ministry approved of the move, saying that experts should be placed in the right positions to make use of their professional experience.

"Ho has been commissioned by the ministry many times to draw up [tax] proposals. He is no stranger to tax reform," the source said.

Ho's appointment as finance minister would be conducive to implementing tax policy, the source added.

Ho, former principal economist at the US Internal Revenue Service, was one of the supporters of then minister Lin Chuan's (林全) Alternative Minimum Tax scheme before the ministry implemented the policy in January this year. Lin resigned that month.

He was also one of a few academics who supported the idea of simplifying the nation's tax system.

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