Sat, Aug 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Government data raise doubts about i-Taiwan

By Wang Pei-lin  /  Staff reporter

Government figures released yesterday show that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “i-Taiwan 12 public construction projects” are proving less successful than anticipated, with a large gap between the forecasts and actual boost to GDP, as well as between the predicted number of job opportunities and the actual number created.

Begun in 2009 and scheduled to be completed by 2016, the i-Taiwan projects were initially expected to cost NT$3.90 trillion (US$129.9 billion), with NT$2.79 trillion coming from the government and NT$1.2 trillion from the private sector.

Public Construction Commission (PCC) figures show that as of last year, a total of NT$2.09 trillion has been invested — NT$32.2 billion more than was initally expected to be reached at that point —with NT$1.42 trillion from the public sector and NT$660 billion from the private sector.

Although the spending is higher than expected, the commission’s figures show that the projects have only boosted GDP by NT$1.78 billion.

A National Audit Office (NAO) report said that the GDP increase is short of the government’s prediction by NT$36.4 billion, while the number of job opportunities created is 60,000 less than had been predicted.

The NAO report shows that, after deducting for the costs of natural disasters such as typhoons, less than 50 percent of the i-Taiwan subprojects — including high-tech industrial zones in central Taiwan, industrial renovation corridors and the farming village renovation project — have been completed.

The report suggests that the outcome of some of the projects has already been discounted because of the lack of integration.

For instance, the lack of a good management plan has led to trees that were planted using Forestry Bureau funds being illegally cut down.

In addition, some projects have been severely delayed, damaging the government’s image, the report said.

They include the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT, which was initially scheduled to begin first phase operations in October, but financial problems have forced the postponement of the opening until the end of 2015.

Although the i-Taiwan projects have attracted a great deal of investment from the private sector, most of the money has gone to a few big ticket items, the report said.

Of the 80 projects, 24 — or 33 percent — have failed to attract any private sector investment, it said..

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