Sun, Jan 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

No change to gas prices before New Year, Hsieh says

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

The premier yesterday promised that gas prices will not be changed before the Lunar New Year.

"I assure you that the government will help stabilize domestic inflation," Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said.

"Although the international price of oil has reached US$61 per barrel recently, our gas prices will not be changed, at least before the Lunar New Year," he said

The premier made the remarks at a press conference held yesterday morning to report on the Cabinet's performance last month.

The Cabinet has held "monthly report" press conferences since Hsieh took office in February.

The premier asked his fellow Taiwanese not to lack confidence, because they had worked hard and achieved success last year.

But, the figures and statistics also showed that Taiwanese people were not too confident in themselves, he said.

"I had said that there was a great future for Taiwan's economy while the stock market remained at 6,000 points few months ago. Many people did not believe me," Hsieh said.

"Now it has reached 6,500 points; most of the winners are foreign shareholders. A pity," he said.

Meanwhile, in related news, Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) expressed confidence yesterday that the economy will be better this year.

The Cabinet has set the goal of achieving economic growth of 4.5 percent this year.

During a news show on the nation's economic situation and outlook aired by the Chinese Television System, Ho said that many people were not optimistic about the country's economic performance last year mainly because of soaring international oil prices.

However, Ho said, the government's decision to not raise electricity rates and to keep oil price increases at a reasonable level had been effective in maintaining consumers' spending power.

Although the economy was sluggish in the first half of last year, export orders and exports marked several new highs from August, Ho said.

Disputing public criticism that the nation's industrial sector is hollowing out, Ho said the number of factories in Taiwan increased by 10,000 last year, with the number of people employed at plants rising by 56,000.

She said that the unemployment rate had also dropped below 4 percent in November, and that this proved that the country's industrial sector has not been hollowed out.

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