Year-end press conference highlights government successes, goals for future

  • Date: 2018-12-28
  • Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan

Premier Lai Ching-te, joined by Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai and Executive Yuan Spokesperson Kolas Yotaka, held a year-end press conference on Friday. The premier said that in the coming year, the most important policy and governance issues for the government to tackle will be preventing African swine fever (ASF), developing the economy, promoting regional revitalization, transforming Taiwan into a bilingual nation, and building a service-oriented, smart government.

Issuing a call for all sectors of society to work together for the benefit of the nation, Premier Lai said that trade disputes between the U.S. and China will confront the economy with even greater challenges in the coming year. The people of Taiwan must nevertheless maintain a steady march forward.

The absolutely most pressing issue for the Executive Yuan in 2019, said the premier, is the prevention of ASF. A 1997 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic devastated the pork industry and damaged the economy, with losses of around NT$170 billion (US$5.5 billion). Because ASF is a more virulent and tenacious disease, should Taiwan suffer an outbreak the effects would be felt even more broadly.

The second major focus in 2019 will be developing the economy, Premier Lai said. Beyond boosting objective economic numbers, the government will also focus on increasing energy efficiency, shrinking the pay disparity between men and women, and narrowing the salary gap between high and low-income earners. In 2018 the government raised civil service pay by 3 percent and introduced a higher minimum wage. Taxes were cut, as well, with increases to the standard individual deduction and deductions for wage earners, parents of preschool-age children, and taxpayers with disabilities.

The government is also working to improve Taiwan’s investment environment by resolving shortages facing the industrial sector (in particular water, electricity, land, labor and skilled talent), reviewing regulatory easing, and raising administrative efficiency, the premier said. The Executive Yuan has approved an action plan to bring Taiwanese businesses back home as the U.S.-China trade war simmers on. A new economic immigration bill has been passed to alleviate Taiwan’s labor shortage—particular for mid-level technical positions—without affecting the job prospects or pay standards of local workers. The Executive Yuan has also submitted an investment tax credit plan to the Legislature for review, and drafted a plan for the repatriation of offshore capital. The government is also in communications with the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering to ensure Taiwan’s compliance with the organization’s requirements.

Next year will see the launch of the regional revitalization and bilingual Taiwan policies, but it will also be an important year for the government in its move toward service-oriented smart governance. The premier expressed hope that regional revitalization efforts will help ease problems associated with rural-to-urban migration, and that the bilingual Taiwan policy will over the next 12 years improve the public’s English proficiency through demand-driven learning to boost the nation’s competitiveness.

Service-oriented smart governance will consist of two main elements: a digital identification card (New eID), and a digital communication pathway connecting all central and local government agencies to allow for the gradual incorporation of personal representational information. These efforts will help transform Taiwan into a smart digital nation, the premier said.

Also at the press conference, Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji discussed economic growth this year and the government’s economic goals for the future. The vice premier noted that estimates put economic expansion at 2.66 percent in 2018, and that next year the government will seek to drive economic growth by stimulating internal demand.

Reviewing government accomplishments, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai said that since 2017 the Executive Yuan has advanced 10 major pieces of legislation. All have been submitted to the Legislature for deliberation, with some still under review and others passed and soon to take effect.