President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday lauded the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to promote the development of the film and other cultural industries, and said democracy and freedom should raise Taiwan’s competitiveness in the field.
“Taiwan’s advantage is that we offer a free and democratic environment for the culture industry. China is stepping up its efforts to attract Taiwanese talent, but many people return to Taiwan because we are more creative,” Ma said while presiding over a meeting of the Chinese Nationalist Party‘s (KMT) Central Standing Committee in his capacity as KMT chairman.
The committee yesterday invited Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) to present a report on the ministry’s policy to develop the television, movie and music industries.
Lung said the development of the culture industry requires inter-departmental efforts by the government, and said the ministry’s budget this year, which is NT$161 million (US$5 million), is too small to carry out such policies and boost the culture industry’s international competitiveness.
“We got the lowest budget among government agencies in the Executive Yuan. Boosting the competitiveness of the culture industry requires mobilizing the entire country. The Ministry of Culture’s efforts alone will not be enough,” Lung said.
She defended the ministry’s achievements in promoting the culture industry. Taiwanese films, for example, accounted for only a 0.03 percent share of the local box office in 2001, while by last year Taiwanese films accounted for an 11.9 percent share, with domestic sales of Taiwanese films rising NT$2 billion every year from 2008 to 2012.
Ma said he understood the issue of the ministry’s budget and promised to increase it.
The president said that signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China and a cross-strait service trade agreement expanded the market for the culture industry, and that Taiwan should take advantage of its rich cultural assets and employ even more creativity to advance the industry.
When asked about major movie theaters’ plans to raise ticket prices, Lung said that the ministry respected the movie theater operators’ decision to raise prices as part of normal market mechanisms.
The ministry’s recent proposal to introduce a 5 percent tax on movie tickets to help develop the domestic film industry has met with opposition from movie theater operators.
Lung later said the ministry would not push the proposal if it does not win public support.