Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Premier claims success in spurring the economy

WAR WORRIES Premier Yu Shyi-kun voiced concern at yesterday's Cabinet meeting about the economic impact on Taiwan of a US-led attack against Baghdad

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday claimed victory in the govern-ment's year-long efforts to revive the economy, while requesting Cabinet agencies keep tabs on the possible impact on the economy of an US-led attack against Iraq.

"We mustn't let the war disrupt the economic order or achievements we've made over the years," Cabinet Deputy Secretary-General Liu Yu-shan (劉玉山) quoted Yu as saying during a press conference held after the weekly Cabinet affairs meeting yesterday morning.

According to Council for Eco-nomic Planning and Development Chairwoman Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥), the shorter the war, the less impact it will have on global and local markets.

"It'll have a more negative impact on global and local economies if the war drags on for more than six months," she said.

Ho also said that the country has enough oil supplies should a war on Iraq disrupt oil supplies from the Middle East.

"While the government requires refiners to hold inventories equal to 60 days of demand, Chinese Petroleum Corp has more in stock," she said.

The state-owned oil company said yesterday that it has enough crude oil, gasoline and other fuels to meet demand for 120 days.

The inventory, however, includes supplies that are in transit.

Two-thirds of the nation's crude oil imports come from the Middle East. The rest comes mainly from Southeast Asia.

Although the public does not seem to feel the economy has revived, Ho said it is picking up thanks to measures the government has implemented as well as the ones it is planning.

"We hope to see the economy growth rate reach 3.52 percent and the jobless rate drop to below 4.5 percent this year," she said.

"It may slow down a little bit should a war break out between the US and Iraq," she said.

Citing the predictions made by the IMF last October and by Global Insight Inc last December, Ho said the nation's economic growth rate is predicted to grow from last year's 3.3 percent to 4 or 4.2 percent this year.

Statistics made available by Ho yesterday also showed that last year's export volume reached US$130.6 billion, a 6.3 percent increase over the previous year.

Import volume amounted to US$112.5 billion, or 5 percent more than the previous year.

Export orders last December reached US$13 billion, a 14 percent increase over the same period the previous year.

Communication-related products topped the list of export items, followed by electronics, textiles, metal products, machinery and plastic products.

While the average consumer product index last year was 0.2 percent less than that of the previous year, the average wholesale price index of last year was 0.06 percent more than that of the previous year.

Tax revenues fell last year for the fourth year in a row, totalling just NT$1.1 trillion, or NT$91 billion less than had been predicted.

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