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Executive Yuan enters full communication era

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The government has entered an era of "full communication," as all Cabinet members were urged to step up communications with the public on policies, according to Executive Yuan Spokesman Hu Yu-wei on May 21.

"The premier has asked all members of the Cabinet to employ empathy and use plain, easy-to-understand language when explaining their policies to the public," Hu told the press after attending the Cabinet meeting convened by Premier Sean Chen that day.

Hu, who assumed the spokesman position just the day before, said that the premier also asked the Cabinet to view recent public voices against the government as constructive criticism.

The premier remarked that the Office of Information Services, which Hu heads, has been established to be responsible for integrating the information disbursement systems of all ministries and agencies under the Executive Yuan. This dynamic exchange network will not only enable the government to issue faster statements to the public but also convey citizens' messages to the Executive Yuan and its ministries with greater speed and efficiency.

In the area of policymaking, Chen encouraged government agencies to think with greater foresight, not merely seeing problems of the next quarter but of the next decade and century as well.

"Short-, mid- and long-term policies should receive equal consideration. They should be designed to complement one another, and short-term measures must not contradict long-term programs," he added.

The premier urged ministries and agencies to look to the "five pillars of national growth" enunciated in President Ma Ying-jeou's inaugural speech on May 20 as overall objectives when planning their own policies.

Premier Chen stressed that national development depends on stable economic growth, and Taiwan's economic and GDP growth in the past had been driven by trade and trade surplus. He compared Taiwan with ASEAN, which began negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with Beijing in 2000 and by 2005 had surpassed Taiwan in trade. Another example came from South Korea; it started FTA talks with its major trading partners in 2003, and in March this year saw its FTA with the U.S. come into effect, making Taiwanese businesses nervous and uneasy.

In response, the premier pledged that the ROC government will strengthen talks with member economies of the World Trade Organization—especially Taiwan's major trading partners—to help remove tariff and non-tariff export barriers for local businesses.

And to keep Taiwan from becoming isolated within the global trade network, the premier said it is imperative for government agencies to work together to pursue FTAs while introducing complementary measures for domestic businesses. Measures pertaining to agriculture, for instance, include helping farmers develop innovative and value-added products, reinvigorating rural communities, and attracting young people to agricultural work.

As for other industries, the government is providing businesses with guidance on raising the economic value of their products via innovation. Efforts are underway to introduce more services within the manufacturing sector, to develop high-tech and internationalized services, and to accentuate the uniqueness of Taiwan's traditional industries.

"Only by changing the structure of industries can we create more employment opportunities and raise income levels," said Chen.

The premier recalled his recent visit with edamame bean farms and factories around Taiwan, pointing out that many local growers have been outperforming their international peers by improving on crops and securing intellectual property rights. Modest as the beans are, these farmers are just as eager to see Taiwan sign FTAs.

Meanwhile, Premier Chen stressed that people are key to the success of any government effort. Aside from attracting foreign professionals and raising the national birth rate in line with the forthcoming White Paper on population policy, the Council for Economic Planning and Development is mapping out a blueprint for human resources development that involves education, examination, training and utilization. The Council of Labor Affairs and the Ministry of Education will also lend their aid to achieve President Ma's goal of "cultivating, retaining and recruiting talent." The premier further instructed other ministries and agencies to actively train personnel within their respective jurisdictions.

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