The Cabinet yesterday set a goal of achieving 3.2 percent GDP growth next year, which is higher than the 2.59 percent forecast by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics (DGBAS) last month.
Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Minster Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) told a press conference that the objective is a “conservative estimate” and the government is “highly confident” of reaching the target.
Minister Without Portfolio Schive Chi (薛琦) also expressed optimism about the economic outlook for next year, saying “there is a better than 50 percent chance that GDP growth will exceed 3.2 percent next year.”
The difference of 0.61 percentage points between the two forecasts partly lies in that the council has higher expectations for growth in private sector investments and export performance next year than the DGBAS does, and partly lies in that the benefits of two major projects were factored into the council’s estimate, Kuan said.
If the cross-strait service trade agreement and the “free economic pilot zone” project, which are both pending legislative screening, clear the legislature early next year, they will contribute 0.4 percent to GDP growth, Kuan said.
The council expects the government to be able to keep the unemployment rate below 4.1 percent and cap a rise in the consumer price index at 2 percent, according to its proposal approved by the Cabinet.
The Cabinet also approved the council-drafted bill on the “free economic pilot zone” project designed to exempt firms covered under the proposal from the nation’s regulatory system of trade and investment rules to spur the development of five sectors — logistics, agriculture, international healthcare, wealth and asset management financial services, and tertiary education.
Schive described the project as a key approach to lead the nation’s economic recovery and end wage stagnation.
Premier Juang Yi-huah (江宜樺) demanded that officials above the rank of first-level directors at all government departments and agencies get acquainted with the project, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said.
“Government officials should be able to explain, promote and defend the policy to impress on everyone how much value the government has attached to the free economic pilot zone project,” Jiang was quoted by Cheng as saying.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting approved an amendment to the Food Administration Act (糧食管理法) to strengthen the quality control mechanism for rice, after recent incidents of high-end rice being mixed with inferior, imported rice.