Economy 34th freest: study
Taiwan is the 34th freest economy in the world, according to a survey by the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. Taiwan falls into the category of "mostly free," with a score of 2.43, in the 2004 Index of Economic Freedom survey of 155 countries around the world. The survey has been conducted every year for the last decade. The nation finished ahead of South Korea and Japan in the Asia-Pacific region, but trailed Hong Kong and Singapore, which ranked first and second in the world, respectively, in terms of economic freedom. The index measures 50 variables in 10 broad categories, including trade policy, fiscal burden of the government, monetary policy, government intervention, foreign investment, banking, wages and prices, property rights, regulations and black market activity. On Taiwan's economy, the foundation said that after the legislative elections in December 2001, Taiwan's politicians have reached a new consensus on economic reforms. The financial reforms have been put in place, with regulations on investment in communications, power supply, finance and telecommunications being eased, and the banking system being strengthened.
Quit helpline a success
Taiwan's state-run quit-smoking helpline has helped more than 10,000 people quit smoking, the helpline said yesterday. "Since the helpline was launched in January last year, we have counselled 23,227 smokers and helped 10,450 of them to quit smoking. The success rate is 45 per cent," Lou Ya-chun, spokeswoman for the Taiwan Smoke Helpline, said. The helpline, launched by the Department of Health, employs 50 counsellors to handle phone calls Monday through Saturday. The councellors decide if the helpline can help the caller or if the caller should seek help from a hospital. "Many hopsitals provide quit-smoking therapy, using nicotine replacement therapy, but we rely on the smokers' own initiative to quit smoking," Lou said.
Freeway No. 3 waives tolls
To celebrate the completion of Freeway No. 3, the nation's second north-south freeway, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) is waiving all tolls from 3pm today until Tuesday, Jan 13. The southern portion of the freeway from Linluo to Linpien in Pingtung County was opened to traffic yesterday, and the final portion of the freeway from Taichung County's Lungching township to the Kuaikuan interchange in Changhua County will be opened today. In addition, the MOTC also held a concert at the Ching Shui service station to commemorate the freeway's completion.
Ally pledges support
Taiwan and Sao Tome and Principe have pledged to strengthen bilateral cooperation, according to a joint communique signed between the two nations on Friday. Before the signing ceremony, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Sao Tome and Principe President Fradique Bandeira Melo de Menezes held talks together. Chen noted that during a state banquet held in Pingtung on Wednesday, one of the entrepreneurs present expressed concerns about the anti-malaria project in the West African nation and said he was willing to donate NT$2 million to fight malaria. Chen also said that as Menezes was visiting Taiwan during the time of a presidential campaign, he is sure to feel and witness the vibrant dynamism of the island.