Cabinet sets hitlist of issues for 2012

The China Post news staff

Premier-designate Sean Chen reiterated yesterday that the government has not taken any stance concerning the controversies over U.S. beef imports and taxation reform. Chen said the incoming Finance Minister Christina Liu will widely collect opinions as the government seeks to introduce a fair taxation system. But his administration has not singled out any specific kind of tax that it would introduce to achieve taxation fairness, Chen told the press during a farewell party for outgoing Cabinet members. In response to speculation that the government would be looking at the possibility of imposing a “windfall tax,” Chen said it can be seen as a form of income tax. But the government would need to consider whether a special tax rate should be levied on such “windfall” incomes, he added. “I believe that Liu would put forth some suggestions after seeking advice from experts,” Chen said.

The incoming premier also dismissed the speculation that the government has already made decisions over the U.S. beef row, said Chen. The beef issue is complicated involving three Cabinet bodies — the Economics Ministry, Council of Agriculture and Department of Health, he said, adding that the government’s consumer rights watchdog will also have a say. He said he will invite all the related bodies study the issue together. Advice from outside experts will be sought and international standards will also be looked at, he added. But he revealed that there are about 22 kinds of leanness-promotion feed additives available in the market, but the government would not consider lifting the ban on those that have caused trouble in China. Chen stepped down as vice premier last week as the Cabinet, headed by Vice President-elect Wu Den-yih, resigned en masse in a reshuffle aimed at materializing President Ma Ying-jeou’s reform promises he made during his re-election campaign. Wu, Chen and Liu — who headed the Council for Economic Planning and Development — all showed up at the farewell party. In his conversation with the press at the party, Chen also dismissed speculation that the government has decided to raise gasoline and electricity prices. But he maintained that prices must reasonably reflect the cost structure. He claimed that gasoline prices in Taiwan are the lowest in the world, but the low pricing may not be in line with the environmental trend of low carbon emissions.