Sat, Aug 24, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Politicians evaluate economic conference's legacy

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

One year after the government convened the Economic Development Advisory Conference (EDAC), officials and scholars noted yesterday that non-economic factors have stalled the implementation of various proposals.

KMT Legislator Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤) said the government worked hard to carry out the consensus of Economic Development Advisory Conference over the last year but that the parts yet to be implemented are more relevant to boosting the economy.

Chiang, who helped organize the cross-party event last year, said political factors have played a major role in hampering the revival of the economy.

Echoing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), he said domestic political chaos has sapped investors' confidence, which in turn has dimmed overall economic performance.

The former economics minister suggested that the government strive to mend fences with China and the opposition parties at home to reverse the situation.

He particularly called for the lifting of a ban on direct transport across the Strait, saying the measure would provide enterprises the incentive to leave their headquarters in Taiwan when they move their manufacturing plants to China.

"Other measures pale in comparison with direct flight [to China] in improving the investment environment," Chiang told a seminar held by the National Policy Foundation.

Jonathan Liu (劉德勳), vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, agreed in part.

Liu said he shared the view of pursuing reconciliation across the Strait and at home and that the government has made great strides toward this aim.

"Under President Chen, the government has repeatedly conveyed goodwill in the hope of ending the cross-strait gridlock," Liu said. "The stance remains unchanged. That is why we abandoned the `no haste, be patient' guideline when reviewing China-bound investment plans."

In line with the "active opening, effective management" doctrine, the Cabinet in March gave its nod to requests by local chip manufacturers to establish eight-inch wafer foundries in China.

Former New Party Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), now a business administration professor at National Chengchi University, is unsympathetic.

Lai, who also took part in the economic forum, said he saw little effort being made to realize the assorted findings.

He noted that only 135 overseas Chinese tourists have visited Taiwan since the government permitted such trips eight months ago and that the offshore transshipping center registers a paltry NT$3 million in monthly business volume.

"And to my knowledge, proposals intended to facilitate direct links remain on the drawing board," Lai said.

Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠), finance professor and former chairwoman of National Youth Commission, said mutual distrust has caused China to withhold its approval for Taiwanese banks and insurance firms to set up offices there.

For the same reason, the government here has shied away from giving its go-ahead to local securities houses establishing subsidiaries across the Strait, she said.

Nevertheless, DPP lawmaker Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信) said he is cautiously optimistic about the materialization of direct links.

Defending the government, he said the replacement of "no haste, be patient" was a great feat and that many findings of the economic conference are still sound.

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