Fri, Sep 05, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Government defends Ma on ‘6-3-3’

ON THE BACK FOOTAs the Presidential Office defended the president, opposition lawmakers were calling for a public apology, a Cabinet reshuffle and a change of premier

By Ko Shu-Ling, Shih Hsiu-Chuan, Flora Wang AND Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Presidential Office yesterday defended President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “6-3-3” economic policy, saying it was announced before the global economic downturn, that Ma had not abandoned it and that it would apply until 2016.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chih (王郁琦) said that the administration would strive to achieve its goals in spite of the global economic slump.

“2016 is the year by which we plan to achieve all three goals. It does not mean that we have to wait until 2016 to accomplish them all,” he said. “As long as the global economy recovers, it is possible that we can achieve some of the goals earlier.”

Wang made the remarks in response to media inquiries about Ma’s comments that his “6-3-3” campaign pledge was unlikely to be realized anytime soon, but he hoped it could be achieved by 2016 — the end of a possible two terms in office.

The “6-3-3” economic policy refers to the goal of achieving annual GDP of 6 percent, annual per capita income of US$30,000, and an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent.

During an interview with the Mexican daily Sol de Mexico on Aug. 26 — the Chinese transcript of which was released by the Presidential Office on Wednesday — Ma said it would be difficult to reach the goal of 6 percent GDP now or within the next year because of the state of the global economy.

Wang yesterday said that Ma’s remarks were intended to bring to the public’s attention the deterioration of the global economy and to advise people to brace themselves for further economic difficulty.

Amid calls for Ma to reshuffle his Cabinet and to apologize for failing to deliver on his election promises, Wang refused to comment.

“We will do our best to reach the goals,” he said.

Wang said that Ma made more than 400 campaign promises and each has its own timetable.

Using the weekend cross-strait charter flights, the increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan and the expansion of the “small three links,” Wang said the administration had made good on its promise to implement them in July.

The “i-Taiwan 12 construction projects,” however, were an eight-year project, he said.

It was a misunderstanding that none of Ma’s election promises could be accomplished before 2016, Wang said.

When asked whether Ma would keep the promise he made during a presidential debate that he would donate half of his salary if he failed to reach the “6-3-3” goals by the end of his first term in office, Wang said that Ma had been referring to the goal of reaching US$30,000 annual GDP per capita by 2016 rather than all of the “6-3-3” goals by 2012.

Minister Without Portfolio Chen Tian-jy (陳添枝) said yesterday that the government did not view the recent slump in the domestic stock market as a signal of an economic downturn, but that the government would keep an eye on future fluctuations in stock prices.

The government would act should the stock market continue to fall “for abnormal reasons,” Chen told a press conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting, but he did not elaborate on what measures could be taken.

He said the decline in the stock market was a result of adjustments in the international funds’ portfolios following the US subprime mortgage crisis and not a loss of confidence in the economy.

Ma’s recent remarks that it would take eight years to achieve the “6-3-3” campaign pledge was the reason behind the recent slump in prices, Chen said.

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