President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended the Cabinet’s efforts to implement government policies amid recent disputes over major issues, including US beef imports and a hike in the price of fuel.
In an interview published by the Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday, Ma said the new Cabinet, formed in February, would do its best to push for reforms as it settles into the new term.
“It is not easy to push reforms forward, and it requires great determination to implement policies,” he said.
“We should strengthen our communication with the public and address their concerns,” he added.
As a part of the government’s plan to conditionally relax the ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine, Ma said a series of forums would be held in cities and counties from this weekend so that officials from the Department of Health, the Council of Agriculture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could discuss related issues with residents.
“It is important for the government to help the public understand that we would not lift the ban unless we were sure about the safety of the products,” Ma said.
“We need to explain to the public that people in the US eat beef everyday and that there is no evidence that the food products are harmful to human health,” he said.
With regard to the increase in the price of fuel, which has met with public outcry, Ma said the adjustments were made to reflect global fuel prices and it was the government’s responsibility to face reality and implement policies that would lead the nation down the right path.
“It is important for us to present policies that will benefit the nation in the long run, rather than just focusing on issues that will please people,” he said. “Taiwan imports about 99 percent of its energy, but our fuel prices are some of the lowest in the world. We do not have the luxury of keeping fuel prices so low, therefore we must reflect normal market prices.”
“The government continues to consider the public’s livelihood and the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] should not make unnecessary connections between fuel price increases and elections,” he added.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs scrapped restrictions on fuel price increases on Sunday last week and allowed state-run CPC Corp (CPC), Taiwan to raise its prices for gasoline and diesel.
In response to criticism of high personnel costs at CPC and other state-run businesses, Ma said the government would continue to reform state-run businesses and pledged that his administration would improve the efficiency of state-run companies during his second term.