The economy remains solid, despite an escalating COVID-19 outbreak that appears thus far to have no impact on manufacturing activity, the backbone of exports, central bank Governor Yang Chin-long (楊金龍) said yesterday.
Yang made the remarks during an online news conference in which he announced the raising of the cap on special relief loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the outbreak by NT$100 billion (US$3.61 billion) to NT$400 billion.
As the outbreak this time is more serious than one last year based on the number of confirmed cases, more loans are needed to help SMEs cope with cash woes, Yang said.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
The existing special loan package of NT$300 billion is almost used up, he said, adding that the central bank would push up the ceiling by NT$50 billion, if necessary.
Asked if the cash injection runs counter to the bank’s credit controls to cool the property market or plans to usher in interest rate cuts, Yang said the central bank’s board meeting on June 17 would discuss these issues and update its GDP growth forecast.
Foreign financial and research institutes have revised up their projections for Taiwan’s economic growth this year to between 5 percent and 7 percent, unfazed by the ongoing outbreak, he said.
Those institutes said the outbreak has wreaked havoc on consumer activity, but has not affected the nation’s manufacturing activity or its export outlook, he added.
Exports are widely believed to gain further traction going forward as the world looks set to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor said, adding that private investment would prove stronger than expected.
The stock market rallies and large daily turnover reflect the optimistic views of foreign and local investors, he said, adding that the appreciation of the New Taiwan dollar appears to lend support to the positive outlook.
The central bank in March predicted GDP growth of 4.53 percent for this year and will update its forecast in two weeks, Yang said.
The board meeting is to take place in three separate rooms for directors, supervisors and central bank officials to minimize infection risks, he said.
The central bank did not move the meeting online for fear that confidential details might be leaked during the course of delivery, he added.
The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, which in February forecast GDP growth of 4.64 percent growth for this year, is to release its latest estimate today.
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