Economy to bottom out soon: CEPD head


CNA

TAIPEI — Christina Liu, the head of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), predicted yesterday that the current economic winter “will not last very long” and is likely to bottom out at the end of the first quarter.

If everything goes as expected, the economy will gradually recover after the quarter, Liu said during an interview with UFO Radio.

According to Liu, the eurozone sovereign debt problem remains the most crucial issue to be resolved in the coming three months, a peak period of debt repayment for many European countries.

Although a broader eurozone crisis has been averted over the past six months due to support from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, there are no easy answers to the fundamental issues, she said.

On the recent slump of Taiwan’s stock market, Liu said investors were getting overly nervous, given that Taiwan’s exposure to European debt is negligible.

Some sectors have indeed suffered from declines in exports because of the eurozone debt problem, but sluggishness in Europe has not had an across-the-board impact on Taiwan’s economy, she said.

She noted that both the Asian Development Bank and Global Insight have predicted that Taiwan will achieve the highest economic growth among Asia’s four little dragons this year, consistent with the CEPD’s own forecast.

On the TaiMed investment case involving opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, Liu said it will be up to judicial authorities to determine whether there were any irregularities.

Liu has been accused by the DPP of forging documents to make the case that Tsai was involved in a conflict of interest in approving the company while still vice premier in 2007 and then becoming the company’s chairman four months after she stepped down from her government post.

Liu said, however, that the CEPD did discover noncompliance with the normal procedures in the case.

She said the Cabinet’s decision to use the National Development Fund to invest in the project did not undergo any assessment or screening and was based solely on the signatures of three people, including Tsai’s in her capacity as vice premier.