President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should consider reforming his policies as well as changing out personnel from the Cabinet and other sections of the government to assuage public discontent, Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien said yesterday.
Addressing reporters, Wang said the Control Yuan had received tens of thousands of complaints from the public, adding that many government policies were unrealistic and inadequate, but the public had no choice but to live with them.
Pointing to a recent case of a children’s shelter that was running out of funding to provide breakfasts, Wang said the shelter was made to wait for one month while a government committee deliberated the funding for a broken light bulb.
Wang added that social welfare organizations like the shelter had no choice but to stomach the unreasonable bureaucratic red tape.
If the government wanted to see their policies have immediate effects, then it should reshuffle the Cabinet and other parts of the government, Wang said.
Government officials would also have to alter their perceptions of certain matters and stop behaving as if they are better than others, he added.
The government and private charities should be partners, Wang said.
Commenting on a recent commentary in English-language weekly The Economist, Wang said it was unfair to solely criticize Ma and that the entire Cabinet had best heed the growing public discontent.
In its piece, the magazine called Ma a “bumbler” and said he had assumed office amid high public expectations in 2008, but is now mired in multiple economic and social policy quagmires as well as enjoying record-low popularity.
Turning to the issue of land value increment tax, Wang said that if the government announced the immediate implementation of using actual transaction prices to set the tax and allocate the revenue generated to help people who are unable to buy houses, the policy would be met with a positive response from the public.
Land value increment taxes are not assessed on actual transaction prices, because the prices are not made transparent.
Instead, they are assessed on government estimates of land and housing values, which are usually far lower than market values.
The government could then make complementary regulations stating that owners with only one house under their name would adhere to the current tax rates, which would shield the majority of such owners from having their tax burdens increased, Wang said.
Another thing the government could do is help those who are seeking to buy their first houses, Wang said.
For example, the government could give first-time buyers a five-year exemption from all interest rates on loans taken out to buy a house, halve interest rates after the five years and allow first-time buyers to take out 90 percent of their loans, Wang said.
In addition, Wang said that first-time buyers would in essence start to pay off their actual loans 10 years after having purchased the house.
Commenting on the capital gains tax on securities income, Wang said the measure was a failure in every sense and the compromises the government made to pass it showed the weakness of its resolve on the issue.