President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the government understood the public’s frustration with current economic hardship but urged people to unite in the face of adversity and have faith in the country.
“The public must feel some resentment toward the recent commodity price hikes. The government must accept the public’s resentment instead of dodging it,” Ma said yesterday morning while receiving representatives of the Chinese National Federation of Industries at the Presidential Office.
The president said that the country’s economic fundamentals remained good in spite of the recent price hikes and the stock market slide.
He added that the government was seeking long-term solutions to improve the investment environment and boost the economy, while waiting for a rebound in the global economy that could bolster Taiwan’s economic performance.
Ma reiterated his message later in the afternoon and called on the public to face the economic situation calmly and rationally. He said that the nation has survived many economic challenges, including the Asian financial crisis of 1997 to 1998.
“We Taiwanese people should believe in ourselves. We need not worry about future challenges because Taiwanese are not easily intimidated,” he said.
Ma’s remarks came in the wake of gasoline and commodity price hikes and a slide in share prices on the TAIEX, with shares closing 3.94 percent lower on Tuesday — their lowest level in 20 months.
Ma said the price hikes and fall in share prices were both reactions to the global situation and that the government would focus on improving the investment environment rather than interfering with the market to seek short-term solutions.
“We are doing everything we can to improve the economy even though no immediate effects can be seen. Whenever [hardship hits us], I believe the country is able to take advantage of the situation and rise again,” he said.
He said that the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the central bank and other Cabinet agencies were working hard to stabilize consumer prices, improve the nation’s investment climate and boost the economy.
He also said he understood that the public was upset that real incomes were eroding as commodity prices rise, but the government would face the problem in a calm and reasonable manner.
As long as the economy remains fundamentally strong, the nation should enjoy economic prosperity once the global economy recovers, he said.
The performance of the TAIEX did not improve yesterday on Ma’s statement. Share prices closed little changed as profit-taking reversed early gains sparked by Wall Street’s overnight rebound, dealers said.
The weighted index closed down 0.05 percent at 7,048.25, on turnover of NT$117.42 billion (US$3.86 billion). Risers led decliners 1,191 to 915, with 456 stocks unchanged.
Additional reporting by AFP
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