Lin vows to merge direct links, 6-year economic vision

The China Post staff

Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i yesterday promised to amalgamate direct links with mainland China into the government’s six-year economic development vision.

Lin said the Cabinet should not have had not considered three links — direct transportation, commercial and postal links across the Taiwan Strait — when drafting the grandiose economic vision.

The Cabinet has passed a “Challenge 2008 National Development Project” recently, which the government said will create 700,000 job opportunities in the run-up to 2008.

Government officials said the plan is aimed at accelerating Taiwan’s transformation into a more innovation-oriented economy from a contract manufacturing-reliant one.

The government has said it will spend up to NT$2.65 trillion over the six years leading to 2008 on 10 development projects, purported to realize seven policy objectives. The former economic minister said yesterday the government will incorporate direct links into the six-year development plan when it evaluates the plan’s progress every six months over the three years toward 2008.

Taiwan still bans direct links with mainland China now but is in the process of easing up the regulations as many local companies have complained, for years in fact, that indirect contacts across the strait have added to their cost and taken a toll in their competitiveness.

But the government will ensure that, aside from endeavors toward direct links, conclusions achieved during an economic summit in 2001 will be implemented to the full.

The Democratic Progressive Party government called an economic conference in summer 2001, during which a series of conclusions were made as part of the government’s efforts to improve the sluggish economy.

Taiwan’s economy saw its first-on-year decline in 2001, as a global economic recession pounded the export-dependent island.

While the economy is improving as the global economy recovers and external demand for Taiwan’s goods increase, many have said the recovery will be just a mild one.

To encourage local and global companies to set up their regional or global headquarters in Taiwan, Lin said the government will also ease up regulations on the free trade harbors.

Tainan County, Kaohsiung City and Yunlin County are expected to be the most vigorous competitors for limited government resources to set up either international airports or free trade harbors.

Lin has promised no guaranteed assistance to any of the vying local authorities, saying there are many factors when deciding where to build a harbor.

He said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) will make a decision within six months.