President Chen Shui-bian (
Addressing the opening of a national conference on health and medical service policies, Chen said the projects, which were approved by the Cabinet earlier this week, are necessary in order to leave future generations with better infrastructure, more wealth and enhanced competitiveness.
"If we fail to carry out these projects right now, we will have to carry them out in the future at a much higher cost. So these projects should be carried out `the sooner the better,'" Chen said, adding that he hopes the opposition parties "appreciate the needs and expectations of the people and support the budget bill for the projects."
While Taiwan's average per capita income has exceeded US$13,000, Chen said, the domestic quality of life has not matched the wealth level.
This is mainly because Taiwan's public infrastructure is inadequate and falling behind places like Shanghai, a fact which undermines Taiwan's overall competitiveness, makes it difficult to attract new foreign investment and retain first-rate talent, and even creates an adverse impact on public health, Chen said.
Noting that a community-wide SARS outbreak in Hong Kong earlier this year was caused by flaws in waste water disposal, Chen said construction of sewer systems in Taiwan is critical to stave off the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Chen said Taiwan lags far behind many advanced countries in public sewer system construction. As of June 30, Taipei City had completed construction of 63.7 percent of its public sewer system and the rate was only 27.8 percent in Kaohsiung City, while the average rate in other parts of the island was a marginal 1.5 percent.
Under the "New 10 Major Infrastructure Projects," Chen said, the government will invest up to NT$70 billion in sewer construction as part of its efforts to offer local people a better and more hygienic environment.