Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday expressed serious concerns about worsening government finances and outlined her vision to revive the nation’s economy.
The government has to respond quickly and effectively to address short-term as well as medium to long-term crises, because “no one would help Taiwan but itself,” Tsai said in an article posted on the Web site of her Thinking Taiwan Foundation.
The outstanding debts of central and local governments reached NT$6.7 trillion (US$229.6 billion) — 49.2 percent of the GDP — at the end of last year, Tsai said, adding that the number would be NT$15 trillion, or 1.58 times GDP, if hidden debts were counted.
In order to solve the short-term problem, she said the government would have to adopt the toughest standards of fiscal discipline and allocate a budget for those areas with the most urgent needs, such as human resources, technology, a long-term healthcare system, disaster and flood prevention and infrastructure in eastern Taiwan.
Budgets for all government agencies should be reduced by 20 percent and 10 percent of the saving should be spent on priority areas, Tsai said.
In addition to carrying out reform of allocation of government revenues between the central and local governments, Tsai said it would also be imperative to empower local governments.
With regard to medium and long-term plans, the former DPP chairperson said the key would be the readjustment of the nation’s fiscal structure, which would be achieved only by simultaneous reform of government revenues and expenditure, with a complete set of policies so that national development would be sustainable, and fairness and justice would be upheld in all social insurance programs.
Tsai said there were three directions reform could take that would make Taiwan vibrant again — readjustment of administrative zoning and empowering local governments; industrialization of the public service sector, which views the sector as an investment rather than an expenditure; and development of the third sector, or voluntary sector, by coordinating the efforts of the government, corporations, not-for-profit organizations and volunteers.
“We have no time to point fingers at each other. We have to come together and march forward together,” she said.
In related news, Tsai is scheduled to leave this weekend on a two-week visit the US and her office released part of her itinerary in a press release.
Tsai is scheduled to attend the Los Angeles Taiwan Center’s fund-raising dinner in San Gabriel, California, tomorrow, and to visit Los Angeles and San Francisco the following day.
She plans to meet with the Taiwanese Association-America in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday next week and to attend a New York Taiwan Center event next Friday.
Tsai would take the opportunity to visit some family members and former and classmates in the US, but that part of the itinerary is closed to the media, the office said.