Sat, Mar 16, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Government may permit its firms to invest in China

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government will not rule out the possibility of allowing state-run enterprises to invest in China, provided such moves are legal, officials said yesterday.

Minister of Economic Affairs Christine Tsung (宗才怡) and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) made the remarks in response to questions from a KMT lawmaker during an interpellation session at the legislature.

"We will not rule out any investment opportunities as long as they are permitted by law," Tsung said.

Tsung promised the ministry would evaluate investment projects on a case-by-case basis because different companies enjoy different development prospects.

Tsai, meanwhile, agreed that there is room for state-run enterprises to invest in China.

Tsai said that the MAC will take a liberal position on the issue as long as investment projects fall under a government-permitted category.

According to KMT lawmaker Chen Chieh (陳杰), the deficits suffered by state-run enterprises, including China Shipbuilding Corp (中船), are draining national coffers. But the vast Chinese market may help revive these enterprises, Chen said.

The KMT lawmaker asked Tsung to conduct an assessment report on the proposal within six months, saying it will be too late if finding a solution to the problem is put off for another two years.

Also during yesterday's interpellation session, lawmakers pressed Premier Yu Shyi-kun to find out why it took so long for officials to react to the water shortage, which they said is threatening the nation's economic development.

In response, Yu promised that the government will conduct a thorough review, but noted that no company has suffered losses because of the water shortage so far.

Yu said officials will be punished if they are found to have neglected their duty.

Directing blame at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, KMT lawmaker Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) said the Water Resources Bureau informed the ministry of the problem on Jan. 15, but the ministry ignored the matter.

Vice Premier Lin Hsin-yi (林信義), who was the minister of Economic Affairs at the time, said the ministry would have dealt with the problem if it had been told that a fallow-land program was required.

Tsung, meanwhile, said she has handled the matter according to standard procedure.

Lawmakers were not satisfied with the answers, however, and accused government officials of lying and passing the buck.

Chen questioned why Tsung told the legislature that she became aware of the water shortage problem on Feb. 27 when she had met with the Water Conservancy Agency on Feb. 21.

Meanwhile, Tseng-Tsai Mei-tso (曾蔡美佐), another KMT lawmaker, doubted the Cabinet's ability to improve the economy, saying "infighting" is preventing it from producing a substantive economic policy.

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