Tue, Jan 11, 2005 - Page 2 News List

High-tech industry has social responsibility: Lu

GIVING BACK The high-tech sector must contribute to the nation's social welfare in light of the subsidies it receives from the government, the vice president said

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu delivers an address during the Seventh National Technology Conference in Taipei yesterday. She said that the high-tech industry consumes a high amount of resources but its social contributions are decreasing every year.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

To reciprocate the huge government subsidies it receives, the high-tech industry should play a bigger role in the nation's social welfare, diplomatic relations, national security and cultural heritage, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday.

While addressing the Seventh National Conference of Science and Technology yesterday morning, Lu said that promoting scientific research and technical development has been a major focus for the government. Annual budgets for science and technology grow by 10 to 12 percent, as the Cabinet aims to increase investment in those sectors to at least 3 percent of the nation's GDP by next year.

Lu cited government statistics that indicated the added-value of Taiwan's high-tech industry has dropped 15.9 percent to NT$604.6 billion last year, from NT$718.9 billion in 2000. Last year, the high-tech industry's added-value accounted for 6.1 percent of GDP, a sharp decline from 7.4 percent of GDP in 2000.

"Why is this so?" Lu asked. "The high-tech industry contributes less than it receives. Leaders in the scientific and business community have to think it over," she said.

Lu also said that given Taiwan's size, the country has limited natural resources.

"While business chiefs receive generous annual bonuses and enjoy luxury dinners, poor people have trouble buying enough food," Lu said.

Lu said policies needed to be devised to tackle the widening gap between rich and poor.

In addition, Lu said a wise use of technology could help ensure the nation's national security and expand its diplomatic status.

"Taiwan can make good use of its scientific abilities to establish international networks aiming to not only promote world peace, but also ensure human safety."

"We can also use our high-tech ability to handle problems caused by the spread of disease or natural disasters," Lu added, without elaborating.

The high-tech industry has to be aware of its social obligations, Lu said.

"We've experienced poverty and poor democratic governance. Future development of the high-tech industry should keep social values and cultural heritage in mind," Lu said.

Minister of the National Science Council Chairman Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) said yesterday that the decline in value-added technology is not unique to Taiwan. Wu said, however, that existing policies will be reviewed at the technology conference entitled, "Innovating R&D in scientific and technology, and boosting economic growth."

Council deputy minister Chi Gou-chung (紀國鐘) said yesterday at the conference that Taiwan has to solve its manpower shortage problem in several fields, including semiconductor, display, communication, and digital content industries.

"To ensure the quality and quantity of Taiwan's work force, we need to develop a mechanism to train our workers overseas to build global contacts," Chi said.

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