Tue, Jan 20, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma defends cash voucher scheme as a short-term boost

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday acknowledged that consumer vouchers were a short-term economic stimulus measure, but said the decision to issue them and include the rich in the scheme was the right one.

The president said there had been opposition to the vouchers because of doubts about their effectiveness in stimulating the economy.

“All signs have indicated that it was the correct decision to issue them [the vouchers] and to include rich people in the sheme,” he said.

Ma said he realized the short-term incentive was not sufficient to revive the economy and that his administration had never considered this as its main economic policy. As part of a NT$500 billion (US$15 billion) package, he said there would be similar measures in future.

While Ma has been criticized for confusing his job description with that of the premier, yesterday he said he would jump to the “front line” in responding to public concerns and retreat to the “second line” on answering to the legislature because it is the premier’s job to do so.

Ma made the remarks while receiving new appointees to non-paid presidential advisers positions at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

Ma hired 71 non-paid presidential advisers this year, including 13 senior presidential advisers and 58 national policy advisers, more than 40 of whom are former politicians.

He asked the new advisers to offer honest suggestions, no matter how unpopular they may be, saying he and Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) were open to different opinions.

Ma said that as the appointment of presidential advisers had been questionable during the previous administration, he had decided to hire only non-paid ones.

Taking into consideration the government’s strained financial situation, Ma said, the Presidential Office had forfeited the NT$61 million budget earmarked for hiring presidential advisers.

The ultimate goal was to amend the Organic Act of the Presidential Office (總統府組織法) to scrap paid presidential advisers, he said.

At the same setting, Ma said that “green technology” might be an industry worth developing in future.

Citing a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ma said the environement in Taiwan was ripe to assist in the development of such an industry.

He also urged the public to look beyond the soaring unemployment rate and into the possibilities of a brighter future.

Also See: Retail sales spike on voucher spending

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