Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday pledged to slash income and business taxes, but to levy heftier energy taxes on heavy users in an effort to bolster Taiwan's economy.
He also promised to make the middle class, the middle-aged and those living in the central and southern Taiwan his priority should he be elected president.
The former premier said lowering income and business taxes would stimulate the overall economy because it would increase consumers' purchasing power.
The government would fill the gap in its coffers by increasing the tax burden for heavy energy users, he said.
"Under my plan, the government would still be collecting the same amount of tax, but the money would be taken from the people who are doing the most damage to our environment," he said.
Hsieh called his plan the "golden triangle," with social justice and the economy at the bottom and environmental conservation at the top.
To establish a sound economy, he said, the government cannot simply increase the nation's overall GDP like his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) counterpart, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), has proposed, but it must ensure that everyone, especially average wage earners, have a decent job and "room to breathe."
"Ma said he wants to reduce the unemployment rate to 3 percent, but I say make it zero percent because under my plan no one will go jobless," he said.
Hsieh also vowed to attract more foreign investors by introducing various tax reduction benefits for international corporations doing business in Taiwan.
He also promised to readjust, but not completely scrap, the current 40 percent investment cap for Taiwanese investors in China on a "case by case" basis.
Speaking to a group of DPP supporters in the party's stronghold of Tainan County yesterday afternoon, Hsieh also vowed to lead the nation to an economic boom by taking care of the middle class and small and medium-sized enterprises in central and southern Taiwan.
"The quickest way to protect Taiwan's traditional industries and to prevent the loss of talent is to stabilize prices and increase the employment rate," he said.
He also extended another invitation to Ma to take part in a public debate on their election manifestos.
"It has been a month since I issued the challenge, but so far we have not received an answer. I really want to know what he [Ma] is so afraid of," he said.
Hsieh also rebuffed remarks made by Ma on Saturday that he was feeling left out and "lonely because Hsieh and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) are battling against each other," and not with him.
"If he really feels lonely then he should go home to his family and stop pretending he is a single man," Hsieh said.
The DPP's candidate said he was not at all intimidated or discouraged by a recent opinion poll that indicated his popularity was on the slide.
The poll conducted for the Chinese-language China Times showed Ma leading Hsieh by 15 percent. Ma received 37 percent support, compared with Hsieh's 22.1 percent, despite the KMT's defeat in the Kaohsiung mayoral election lawsuit. It also showed that 41 percent of respondents were still undecided.
"Polls are not always reflective of the people's will and results can be interpreted differently depending on who conducted the poll," Hsieh said.