Critics are divided over the Cab-inet's NT$2.6 trillion, six-year national-development project to turn Taiwan into a "green silicon island" -- a nation devoted to clean high-tech industries.
Some say the project is aimed at winning support for the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration ahead of the 2004 presidential election. Others simply argue that the project is aimed at making Taiwan a better place.
"Its purpose is clearly to win the 2004 presidential contest, because the Chen administration has to show the public that it's determined to do something to deserve another four years in power," said Norman Yin (
Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤), legislative vice speaker and former chairman of the Cabinet's Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) under the KMT, expressed the same opinion.
"It's obvious that the introduction of the six-year project serves the purpose [of winning the presidential contest]," he said.
"While Beijing will play host to the Olympic Games in 2008, the DPP-led government has to show to both the world and its people that Taiwan, too, has a promising blueprint to look forward to and that the island deserves some media attention in the international arena."
But the DPP's Chen Po-chih (
"The six-year national project is definitely not designed to win the presidential election just two years away," Chen said.
"The idea of building a `green silicon island' had already been proposed when I chaired the CEPD. As we decided the ultimate goal of the project, the rest of plan kind of fell into place."
After 76 rounds of discussion and revision, the Cabinet finally approved the project on Wednesday.
The government hopes to create 700,000 new jobs, decrease unemployment from 5 percent today to 4 percent, boost GDP growth to 5 percent annually from 2.3 percent this year and devote up to 3 percent of Taiwan's GDP to research and development.
In addition, the Cabinet hopes the project will help develop at least 15 products or technologies that will rank among the world's best, double the current number of foreign tourists from 1 million to between 2 million and 5 million and increase the household use of broadband Internet services to 6 million homes.
To ensure the full implementation of the project, Vice Premier Lin Hsin-yi (
Hu Sheng-cheng (
Chen Chi-nan (陳其南) will oversee the talent cultivation plan, the creative industry development plan and the community construction plan.
Lin Sheng-feng (林盛豐) will take charge of plans to increase the number of tourists and the water and green construction plans.
Tsai Ching-yen (
Criticizing the six-year project as "nothing new," Yin said it is nothing but a "larger-scale version of the NT$810 billion public-construction project."
The project was introduced by former premier Chang Chun-hsiung (
"I don't see many innovative ideas in the project because most of it continues the NT$810 billion public-construction project, which didn't boost Taiwan's economy but instead" exacerbated the problem, Yin said.
Although some plans included in the six-year project, such as the talent-cultivation plan and the creative industry development plan, are considered to be new, Yin said they won't do much good to spur the nation's economy.
"As the government is already suffering from financial difficulties, it should spend its money more carefully in areas that can swiftly and directly boost the local economy," he said. "I don't see that big investment in cultural and humanity industries swiftly boosting the economy."
Although Yu pledged to implement the project to the full, Yin said he is skeptical.
"Who knows whether the DPP will still remain in power and Yu will still be the premier after the 2004 presidential election?" Yin said.
Chen, however, said that although it is possible that the DPP will lose power in the future, a good national development project should be mapped out from a long-term perspective.
Premier Yu Shyi-kun is not the first premier to propose a long-term development project.
■ Chang Chun-hsiung, term 2001-2002 The NT$810 billion public-construction project Budget: NT$810 billion. Not yet completed. ■ Tang Fei, term 2001 The knowledge economy development project Budget: NT$36 billion. Not yet completed. ■ Lien Chan, term 1994-1998 The Asia-Pacific operation center development project Budget: Not applicable (Project aimed at amending certain laws and regulations) Not yet completed. The ``12 public constructions'' project Budget: NT$70 billion. Not yet completed.
■ Hau Pei-tsun, term 1991-1993 The six-year national-development project Budget: NT$8.2 trillion. Not yet completed. Source: TT
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