Premier Su Tseng-chang marked the second anniversary of his leadership of the nation's highest executive team at Thursday's weekly meeting of Cabinet, taking the opportunity to thank the group for their hard work and cooperation in overcoming difficulties and surmounting barriers along the way. The Cabinet's efforts contributed greatly to Taiwan's globally applauded successes, and he encouraged members of the executive team to carry on in protecting the country, improving the nation's welfare and bringing benefits to the people of Taiwan.
Reflecting on the accomplishments of the past two years, the premier recalled his inaugural-day inspection tour of African swine fever prevention efforts at the Taoyuan International Airport. At the time he demanded that 100 percent of travelers' luggage be inspected, and today Taiwan is one of only two Asian nations to have successfully blocked entry of the disease. Premier Su also remarked on Taiwan's commitment to marriage equality in passing a dedicated law legalizing same-sex unions.
Taiwan has seen success not only in preventing African swine fever, but also in containing COVID-19, said the premier. While the world was still largely unaware of the threat posed by the new virus, Taiwan had already taken the lead in conducting on-board, pre-disembarkation quarantine inspections of charter flights from Wuhan, implementing temperature checks at ports of entry, suspending transfer passenger traffic, and limiting direct flights from China. The strict application of 14-day quarantine periods, thorough contact tracing and other measures aimed at curbing transmission have also been indispensable in earning Taiwan worldwide affirmation as one of the happiest and safest countries on Earth, Premier Su said.
Taiwan also banned the export of medical masks, formed a "national face mask team" by mobilizing machine tool makers, and rolled out a name-based system for mask distribution. And as some argued for COVID-19 relief in the form of cash payments, Taiwan's government introduced "triple stimulus" vouchers that bolstered consumer spending. The government also struck a balance between fiscal discipline and meeting society's needs to save 1.1 million jobs, keep businesses alive, and deliver economic relief to 12 million people, the premier pointed out.
Taiwan is also the only developed country to have maintained positive growth and has become the envy of the world for its outstanding economic performance. Thanks to a strict adherence to fiscal discipline, the government has recorded annual surpluses exceeding NT$100 billion (US$3.5 billion) in recent years. At the same time, the government was able to raise wages, cut taxes, and increase a wide range of benefits for citizens. Already 2021 has seen the launch of agricultural workers insurance and the fifth straight year of national minimum wage hikes. The government also continues to raise long-term care subsidies and child care stipends to alleviate financial burdens on young people.
The premier expressed strong confidence in Taiwan's economic performance for the coming two to three years. He asked Cabinet members for their continued support for many other future important plans that will benefit the nation and its people.