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Premier Lai: Economy top priority for government


Premier Lai Ching-te on Monday said the economy is the nation's highest priority, which is why the government has been pushing to raise salary levels, cut taxes and regulations, make tax burdens more reasonable, and create a friendly environment for investors and businesses.

Speaking at a dinner function hosted by the Taipei-based Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, the premier said he has been convening a series of meetings on government initiatives to boost investment in Taiwan. To address issues hindering investment, the government has rewritten laws and introduced new policies that will be monitored and reviewed on a rolling basis so that companies can invest in Taiwan with greater confidence.

To increase Taiwan's talent pool, for instance, the government changed the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals to allow companies to recruit professionals from abroad, the premier said. Companies can also use favorable tax provisions in the Statute for Industrial Innovation to keep skilled workers in country. In addition, key elements of a new economic immigration bill are being mapped out to permit overseas Taiwanese students completing their studies in Taiwan to remain for work, and blue-collar workers who have amassed considerable mid-level technical experience in Taiwan will also be allowed to remain for employment and eventually acquire residency rights.

Regarding energy issues and President Tsai Ing-wen's goal of phasing out nuclear power by 2025, the government is confident that Taiwan will be able to produce 12 to 15 percent of all energy from renewable sources by that time, Premier Lai said. To replace nuclear power with renewable energy, Taiwan is currently installing wind and solar power generation facilities while vigorously promoting small hydropower and geothermal power generation.

Membership for Taiwan in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is another important policy goal, the premier continued. Tariffs often create operational difficulties for companies investing in Taiwan, so Taiwan must overcome those obstacles and integrate into the regional economy to entice companies to stay long term. The government is presently reviewing and amending Taiwan's laws and policies to comply with the requirements of the CPTPP.

As for cross-strait relations, Premier Lai said his personal feeling is that the two sides should set aside differences to find common ground, and replace confrontation and obstruction with reconciliation and dialogue. Engaging in conversation will enhance understanding, appreciation, tolerance and reconciliation on both sides and further lead to peaceful development of relations.

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