Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) unveiled his "i-Taiwan 12 projects" economy platform yesterday, promising NT$2.65 trillion (US$81 billion) in government investment over the next eight years to boost the nation's economy by expanding domestic demand.
Pledging to put the economy "on the front burner" if elected, Ma said the government would fund projects to attract NT$1.34 trillion in private investment, adding that the investments would boost GDP by more than NT$4 trillion over the next eight years and provide employment for 120,000 people.
"My economic policies consist of more than opening up [the country] for more Chinese tourists and cross-strait direct links. Expanding domestic demand is also crucial and for the government to invest in the nation shows love for Taiwan," Ma told a press conference yesterday morning.
The "i-Taiwan 12 projects" include building and linking rapid transit networks in cities and counties across the country, turning Kaohsiung into a tariff-free port and eco-park, turning Taichung into a center for maritime and air logistics in the Asian-Pacific region, turning Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport into an "air city," developing cultural and creative industries, creating industrial innovation corridors, carrying out urban regeneration, revitalizing rural Taiwan, reviving coastal zones, building 60,000 hectares of new forests to meet sustainable development goals, improving infrastructure designed to prevent flooding and fighting water pollution, and improving the nation's waste water sewage system.
The "i" stands for "infrastructure, investment, information, innovation, intelligence and international," Ma's camp said.
Ma and his running mate Vincent Siew (
When asked how the projects would be funded, Ma said taxes and revenue generated by the projects would cover the investment costs. Ma also vowed not to raise taxes in the next eight years if elected.
"We need tax revenue to invest in the projects, so we probably won't cut taxes, either," he said.
Later in the day, in an address to the US, European, New Zealand and Australian chambers of commerce, Ma accused the government of neglecting Taiwan's economic development over the past seven years, pursuing unstable policies and running an unstable government. Ma pledged to improve the investment environment for foreign companies by normalizing cross-strait economic relations and allowing cross-strait direct flights.
Ma cited the American Chamber of Commerce as evidence, saying its members had decreased from 900 to 700 over the past seven years as a result of shrinking markets and opportunities in Taiwan as a regional springboard.
In addition to opening up cross-strait direct links, Ma promised to establish "twin golden flight circles" among airports in Taiwan, Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Seoul's Gimpo Airport and Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport.
Ma also promised to revise the cap on investment in China, but added that his administration would not open up the agricultural market to Chinese products or open the labor market to China.