Sun, Dec 04, 2011 - Page 1 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Candidates outline visions for Taiwan

IN THE SPOTLIGHT:With the whole nation watching, the three presidential candidates put forth their respective plans, hopes and fears for the country’s future

By Chris Wang, Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporters

“I have already apologized in October for failing to carry out the ‘6-3-3’ policy, but we will not give up our efforts to reach the goal,” he said.

The “6-3-3” policy refers to Ma’s promise to attain GDP growth of 6 percent, bring the unemployment rate to less than 3 percent and increase average annual per capita income to US$30,000 by next year.

The government’s forecast of the nation’s economic growth for this year is down from 4.81 percent in August to 4.51 percent, and per capita income is expected to reach about US$20,000 this year.

While stressing the government’s efforts to continue lowering the unemployment rate and increase per capita income, Ma lauded Soong for his recognition of the ECFA as a platform to enhance economic ties with other countries while he defended his administration’s achievement in signing an investment pact with Japan in September and the ongoing negotiations with Singapore to sign an FTA.

“The ECFA is not a cure-all, but it is a vitamin to help us connect with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

He challenged Tsai to carry out her promise to lower the nation’s debts within four years without increasing taxes if she is elected.

In addressing the issue of the growing wealth gap and the European debt crisis raised by CNA, Soong proposed education reform, including enhancing vocational education, as a long-term solution to the wealth gap and promised to make the taxation system fairer if he is elected.

He attributed the European debt crisis to a poor social welfare system and vowed to revise the nation’s social welfare system to take better care of the disadvantaged, while promising to hold regular national conferences to address the nation’s finances.

Ma, on the other hand, accused the DPP of being responsible for creating the biggest wealth gap in the nation’s history in 2001 and cited government measures — including the revision of the Social Assistance Act (社會救助法) to include more recipients of social assistance and increasing the social welfare budget to NT$407 billion next year — while defending his efforts to take care of the disadvantaged.

On the European debt crisis, Ma said his government has approved a stimulus package to maintain the nation’s economic performance and prevent the European debt crisis from causing damage to Taiwan.

Tsai dismissed Ma’s accusations that the DPP was responsible for the wealth gap and said the biggest wealth gap was created under the Ma administration. She proposed creating more job opportunities to narrow the gap, while reiterating her promise to take control of financial deficits as a damage-control measure in light of the European debt crisis.

The three candidates also addressed nuclear policy and electricity fees. When asked by Apple Daily whether the government would raise electricity fees if he is re-elected, Ma said it was unlikely that his government would raise fees by a large margin in the next four years, because it would push for the development of “green” energy, including wind energy and solar power, while gradually phasing out nuclear power and ensuring nuclear security.

Tsai questioned the success of the Ma administration’s performance in promoting energy-saving measures over the past three years and promoted her proposal to achieve a “nuclear-free homeland” by 2025 if she is elected.

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