The Executive Yuan is committed to transitioning out of the COVID-19 pandemic, enhancing social welfare, improving national infrastructure and enhancing the nation’s core strategic industries, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday in his first address to the Legislative Yuan as Cabinet leader.
After his scheduled address on Friday last week was postponed by a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) boycott of the proceedings, Chen at an interpellation session thanked President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for her trust and for affording him a chance to serve the country in his new role.
He also thanked former premiers Lin Chuan (林全), William Lai (賴清德) and Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) for their efforts, specifically mentioning Su’s handling of African swine fever, the COVID-19 pandemic and a water shortage that was the worst recorded in a century.
The Executive Yuan is to review social welfare measures aimed at returning living standards to pre-2020 levels, Chen said, adding that priorities include childcare and birthing resources, long-term healthcare for elderly people and rental housing policies.
On infrastructure, the Executive Yuan is to implement the fourth phase of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program while enacting measures to improve infrastructure for farming and fishing villages, Chen said.
The Executive Yuan plans to help small and medium-sized enterprises modernize to remain competitive, and continue development of the six core strategic industries to build the foundation of Taiwan’s advanced technology research and development abilities, he said.
These plans are certain to bolster the resilience of Taiwan’s industrial sectors domestically and abroad, he added.
Regarding electricity pricing, the Executive Yuan is to decide next month whether to raise rates, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) during the interpellation asked if the president would attend this year’s US-chaired APEC conference in light of US Senior Official for APEC Matt Murray’s comments on Thursday, in which he said Taiwan should be considered a full member of APEC, and would work for the nation’s inclusion.
Chen said the issue of Tsai’s participation would be discussed with the US.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Taiwan is a member of APEC and has the same rights as other members, and the ministry would lobby for a seat at the meeting.
Before addressing the legislature, Chen delivered a report outlining the Cabinet’s plans to address stagnant wages, needs for long-term care services, challenges facing Taiwan’s energy transition and shortfalls in the Labor Insurance Fund.
The report discussed wage stagnation and the fund’s potential bankruptcy.
Chen said in the report that the government would address income shortfalls by attracting investments, expediting industrial upgrades, taking measures to alleviate individual financial burdens and helping people find jobs that fit their educational backgrounds.
The government plans to continue subsidizing the Labor Insurance Fund after evaluating its finances to ensure that it is sufficient to cover pension commitments, the report said.
On long-term care services, local governments are to receive help to develop “small-scale” and “multifunctional” care facilities at the community level, raise public awareness about how disabilities can be managed and ensure that care services are accessible, it said.
Chen also said in the report that the government would increase the proportion of green energy sources and natural gas in Taiwan’s energy mix while working to cut the use of coal and nuclear energy.
The government is also to bring about a “nuclear-free homeland,” and continue work to seal the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮), the report said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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