President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday reiterated the government's determination to follow through with tax reform and privatization of the banking sector by 2008 before he finishes his second term in office.
"While [an economic downturn] makes it difficult to reach our goals, banking and tax reform must continue, regardless of the price we have to pay," he said. Chen made the remarks last night during an interview with the TV station USTV.
During the interview, which focused on the government's economic reform plans, Chen reiterated his administration's ambitious industry consolidation goals, including halving the number of state banks to six by the end of this year, and allowing foreign investors to manage at least one of the state banks by next year.
Chen also defended the government's plan to raise income taxes.
"The tax reform plan is not an across-the-board tax hike. The proposals are aimed at achieving fiscal balance and simplifying the tax system," he said.
When asked about the economic relations between Taiwan and China, Chen noted that while Taiwanese investments in China may boost the economy, it is important for industries to keep their roots in this country.
"The situation with China is different than with other countries, and we must not only think about making money while ignoring the threat on the other side of the Strait," Chen said.