Yu launches new program
Bellowing "Naruwan, wel-come to Taiwan!" Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday announced that next year will be "Taiwan Tourism Year." Naruwan means "how are you" in indigenous language. "We hope every citizen would become an ambassador of the program and help bring in 3 million foreign tourists next year," he told a press conference held at the Executive Yuan to launch a series of activities to promote tourism. Five tasks have been set to meet the goal, including domestic and international promo-tional campaigns, interna-tional festivals, development of travel packages and the establishment of convenient online travel information. The tourism program is part of the Cabinet's six-year, NT$2.6 trillion national development project. The Cabinet hopes to double the annual number of foreign tourists from the current 2.6 million to 5 million by 2008.
■ cross-strait ties
Matsu wants fewer limits
Matsu officials asked the government yesterday to relax restrictions on links with China. Lienchiang County Commissioner Chen Shue-sheng (陳雪生) made the plea while attending a seminar on the review of the "small three links." Nine legislators attended the seminar, as well as more than 50 government officials, including Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎), and Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications You Fan-lai (游芳來). Chen suggested that the central government be in charge of issues concerning policies, but leave the technical issues to the local government to deal with through consulta-tions with China. He also suggested that Matsu residents who later settle in Taiwan proper be allowed to travel to China via Matsu.
Japan to import rice
Japan has agreed to import rice from Taiwan, a move seen by Taiwanese farm officials as confirmation of the fine quality of Taiwanese rice, a Council of Agriculture official said yesterday. Hsieh Hung-jen said two Japanese officials visited the country last month to inspect rice fields and the processing and storage of rice. "They were satisfied with the quality of Taiwanese rice and agreed to start imports next spring. Rice exporters will bid for the contract through inter-national tenders," he said. Taiwan has 350,000 rice farmers and grows enough for its own consumption and exports about 90,718 tonnes a year.
Temps to get bonus
In a bid to help underprivi-leged workers who are temporarily employed by government agencies have a happy Lunar New Year, Premier Yu Shyi-kun yester-day approved awarding each of the 62,000 temporary workers a NT$5,000 bonus. Yu said that the workers deserve the reward because they do not get paid during the six-day Lunar New Year holiday, making their salary that month less than the NT$15,840 minimum wage. Yu approved the proposal after a briefing by Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) during the weekly Cabinet meeting. The Lunar New Year holiday next year will run from Jan. 21 to Jan. 27.