The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) deserves more credit for its economic performance during the eight years it was in power, and the common perception that it is less capable of managing economic affairs is wrong, panelists told a seminar yesterday.
The panel discussion was the first of four weekly installments bringing together academics and former government officials to thoroughly review the administration’s performance in 17 policy areas from 2000 to 2008.
Citing various statistics to draw a comparison between the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), former Council of Economic Planning and Development minister Chen Po-chih (陳博志) said that although the DPP had outperformed the current administration, it had a hard time convincing people of its ability to manage economic issues better than the KMT.
Almost all economic data, including data on GDP, the unemployment rate, export volumes and income growth, indicated that the DPP administration had fared better than President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) KMT administration, Chen said.
“The KMT has created a false perception among voters. Moreover, the KMT has also portrayed the DPP’s policies as ‘closed off,’ in particular with regards to China,” Chen said.
While the KMT has labeled the DPP as “anti-free trade” and advocated a free-trade approach, Chen said the DPP supported free trade with a certain degree of regulation because an unrestricted free-trade system would not necessarily serve the nation’s best interests.
Former minister of economic affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said the DPP’s economic policy had two defining characteristics — a hedging policy of promoting global investment rather than “putting all its eggs in the one basket,” meaning China, and a quick response to industry needs via coordinated interagency collaboration.
However, the DPP could not have done everything right while in power as former vice premier Lin Hsin-i (林信義), who made a keynote speech before the panel discussion, said the party would be well-advised to conduct a fundamental and comprehensive study of local industries to be better able to cater to businesspeople’s needs if the party returns to power.
Lin, a business executive-turned-politician, said the DPP should also improve its communication skills to better explain its policies to voters.
Hsieh Chin-ho (謝金河), executive director of the Chinese-language monthly Wealth Magazine, agreed with Lin, saying that the party should clearly articulate its positions, in particular on cross-strait economic relations.
Hsieh said the DPP should also improve its agenda-setting in the areas of tax and banking reform as well as recognize the changing dynamics in the age of the Internet.