Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Ma asks Cabinet for economic solutions

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday met with Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) and finance officials to discuss ways of dealing with the economic recession and asked that the Cabinet present practical strategies within three months on increasing exports and developing major industries.

The strategies will focus on diversifying export products, encouraging local industries to establish their own brands and acquiring key technologies, while pushing for the development of emerging industries, such as tourism, medical care, biotechnology and modern agriculture, the meeting concluded.

The signing of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with China was also among the topics discussed at the meeting.

Ma said signing a CECA with China was part of his election platform and that his administration would push for the implementation of an agreement, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) told reporters after the three-hour closed-door meeting yesterday.

Wang said Ma told the meeting that as to the title, content and form of the agreement, he would seek opinions from the public. The opposition party and the public were welcome to share their thoughts on the issues, Ma said, adding that normalizing cross-strait economic and trade relations remained a major aim of his administration and that the government would continue pushing for more cross-strait exchanges, while seeking public consensus.

Ma asked Liu and the Cabinet to report on the current economic situation and possible solutions to the downturn after the latest data released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) published on Wednesday showed the nation’s economy was officially in recession. The data showed that GDP shrank by 8.36 percent in the fourth quarter of last year after a bigger-than-expected decline in exports that prompted the private sector to halt or delay investment.

Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairman Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝) yesterday presented a report on the nation’s overall economic situation and possible solutions to the financial crisis.

Ma and the Cabinet focused their discussion on the long-term development of local industries amid the global financial crisis. Specific policies were not included in the discussion, Wang said.

Ma called on the Cabinet to invite public bids for public construction works and to implement the projects as quickly as possible. He said he expected the legislature to pass a NT$500 billion (US$14.3 billion) budget so that the government could improve the economic situation.

Wang dismissed talk of a possible Cabinet reshuffle because of the financial crisis and stressed that the meeting was held simply to discuss solutions to the recession.

“The Cabinet’s strategies to revive the economy are no different from those presented by other nations’ governments. However, the president suggested that the Cabinet should pay particular attention to their effectiveness and the public’s expectations,” Wang said.

Ma will preside over another meeting this morning to discuss major social issues, including the possible renaming of Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.

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