The only way to increase a nation’s competitive advantage is to actively cultivate talented people and infuse them with creativity, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said.
Speaking at a forum hosted by the National Youth Commission yesterday, Ma said the government hoped to spur growth by encouraging young people to start businesses in their hometowns using the “youth business starter fund loan” jointly provided by the commission and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
National Youth Commission Minister Chen Yi-chen (陳以真) said 2,500 young people wishing to start their own businesses would be provided with a loan capped at NT$1 million (US$34,000).
Young people wishing to develop local agriculture, healthcare, education, tourist hostels or other priority items would be able to apply for NT$2 million in loans.
However, National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of National Development associate professor Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆) said that in the past decade, many government organizations, the Council of Labor Affairs included, had sought to promote local industries, but to little success.
The problem lies in the unequal allocation of resources between rural and city areas and a lack of consumers in rural places. Prior to investing in businesses, the government should thoroughly assess how much demand there is in an area, or go one step further by creating demand, Hsin said.
That is the point of the entire event, for if you do not have sufficient demand and only promote more suppliers to invest in the region, it would only lead to competition through price--slashing, which is not conducive to an industry’s or business’ longevity, Hsin said.
Taiwan Labour Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) also said that the government’s efforts have not developed “a local economy.”
Son said that no one would say that the balanced development of the country is wrong, but if there is no improvement in the need for employment in a region, the continual promotion of returning to one’s hometown and creating businesses there would only amount to a slogan that lasts a few years before disappearing.