Sun, Dec 04, 2011 - Page 1 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Presidential candidates cross swords

HEAD TO HEAD:The following is a transcription of the third part of yesterday’s televised presidential debate, in which each candidate posed two questions to each opponent

Transcribed by Loa Iok-sin, Lee I-chia and Jake Chung  /  Staff Reporters

President Ma, aside from opening up the market to China, what are your policies for consolidating the national economic base? Chairman Soong, what are your policies on the subject?

Ma: Chairperson Tsai has mentioned that our investment in China has greatly increased. I think that you are taking about “expected” capital, not the capital that is already there. There is no major difference in the capital invested in China and that in the past. In addition, on Taiwan’s acceptance of overseas production orders, those orders rose quickest during the eight years of DPP rule, when they jumped from 12 percent to 46 percent. At present, the level is 50 percent. In the four years we have been in power, there has been an increase of just 4 percent. In contrast, the numbers increased from 12 percent to 46 percent when the DPP was in power — that is a total of 34 percent. I think it is clear who is more effective on the issue of overseas production orders.

Second, on the issue of wages, our wages are in fact gradually rising. Certainly, they have not increased enough, but if our economy can continue to grow, then our wage standards will also be higher.

On the issue of debt, according to Chairperson Tsai our national debt stands at NT$1.3 trillion, but the most important thing about the national debt figure is why we spent that money and it was primarily to expand domestic demand during the 2008 financial crisis. At that time we promoted a great deal of infrastructure construction. Chairperson Tsai might not have a full understanding of the issue. On this particular issue, the funds given to central and southern Taiwan greatly exceed the amount given to those regions under DPP rule.

Using Greater Tainan as an example, the DPP gave that area an annual NT$2.7 billion for transportation infrastructure, whereas we have paid NT$18.4 billion a year. We give them a lot of money and where does that come from? It comes from investing in infrastructure.

This funding is an investment in the future, creating jobs and commercial benefits, and so the money spent slowly trickles back in [to the treasury].

The fact that the central government’s debt has fallen from 3.5 percent of the budget to 3 percent, 2.5 percent, and will drop to 1.6 percent next year, [shows] that our financial situation is gradually improving. Every penny we spend is on construction, which will create more wealth. What we are leaving for future generations is not debt, but construction. All countries uses financial policies to stimulate the economy. Chairperson Tsai is an economics expert and is surely aware of that.

Therefore, the consolidation of the national economic base requires building good infrastructure, because only a nation with a good infrastructure has a future.

Soong: I think Chairperson Tsai is talking about two distinct questions — one concerning government debt and the other on how to strengthen the national economy for future development. During the eight years the DPP was in power, it raised the debt figure by NT$1.4 trillion, but President Ma, you’ve only been in power for four years and already you’ve raised the debt by NT$1.7 trillion.

The nation faces hidden debts of as much as NT$13 trillion, meaning that every citizen is burdened with NT$810,000 in debt from the moment they are born. That is truly terrifying.

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