TAIPEI (CNA) — The Cabinet on Jan. 10 approved a program formulated by the National Development Council (NDC) to increase domestic demand with the aim of boosting Taiwan’s economic growth this year, according to Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka.

At a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said Taiwan’s gross domestic product (GDP) had been growing over the past two years and the government is expected to have a fiscal surplus of NT$40 billion (US$1.3 billion) this year, which will be used appropriately, according to Kolas.

Domestic demand will be a key factor in ensuring stable economic growth in Taiwan this year in the face of a volatile global economy and the trade frictions between the United States and China, Lai told the Cabinet, Kolas said.

He said consumption and investment are the two key elements in boosting domestic demand, therefore, the government plans to increase people’s disposable income by optimizing the taxation systems, according to Kolas.

By increasing domestic demand, the government hopes to achieve economic growth of 2.4 to 2.6 percent this year, Kolas said, citing the premier. She said the efforts to spur higher consumption will include promoting domestic travel and tourism, hosting large-scale activities, conferences and exhibitions and providing subsidies for the purchase of energy-efficient equipment and electric vehicles.

Under the NDC program, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOEA) will spend NT$250 million this year to create a more tourism friendly environment in 40 small towns and another NT$3.85 billion to improve other tourist attractions, including scenic sites, Kolas said, citing the premier.

The MOEA will also give subsidies to tourists to encourage domestic travel during the low season, she said. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has secured a number of international activities that will be held in Taiwan this year, including the 2019 Herbalife International Singapore Pte Ltd. Conference and 2019 International Air Safety Summit, Kolas said.

She said the MOEA also plans to establish a commercial circle and a tourism factory to boost Taiwan’s tourism. In terms of investment, the government plans to launch NT$392.7 billion worth of public infrastructure projects this year, with the goal of attracting private investment and spurring the economy, Kolas said.

State-run enterprises have also budgeted NT$221.64 billion for a series of projects, including the development of electric power sources, expansion of petroleum refinery and natural gas production and expansion of water supply facilities, she said.

By Ku Chuan and Evelyn Kao