Ma Ying-jeou calls for strong measures in New Year address

Ma Ying-jeou vows to tackle four major challenges facing Taiwan during his New Year’s Day address to the nation.
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said Jan. 1 that his administration will do whatever must be done to overcome difficulties and lay a solid foundation for Taiwan’s future growth and lasting prosperity in the years ahead.

“As Taiwan’s economy looks set to recover in 2013, the nation must make the most of the opportunity to speed reforms and take strong measures to meet four very difficult challenges,” the president said during his New Year’s Day address.

“The vicissitudes of the global economic climate have generated increasingly fierce international competition in the industrial sector,” Ma said. “Taiwan must effect a structural transformation of industry by embracing value-added innovation to maintain its competitive edge.”

The accelerating formation of a free-trade bloc in the Asia-Pacific is both a challenge and opportunity for Taiwan. “Our ability to take part in the process of economic integration will be a key determinant of whether Taiwan can expand its economic and trade presence,” the president said.

There is a clear mismatch between the country’s talent training approach and the actual needs of the business sector, Ma said. “This will be changed by reshaping the country’s R&D, strengthening collaboration between industry and academia, and enabling educational institutions to play a supporting role in private sector R&D efforts.”

The fourth challenge is the effect of a low birthrate and an aging population on the country’s pension systems, which face potentially massive funding shortfalls. “We must implement a pension overhaul in a manner that ensures fair treatment to all generations and promotes sustainable development,” Ma said.

As cross-strait peace is a prerequisite for Taiwan’s economic development and key to stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Ma said he hopes to cooperate with the new leader of mainland China and accelerate the pace of follow-up negotiations under the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to expand all aspects of Taipei-Beijing ties.

The president said the most pressing task for the government at this time is to reinvigorate the economy and rebuild the society’s confidence, adding that he has directed all government agencies to take decisive action to resolve the four core issues. (THN)

Meg Chang
Taiwan Today