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Business group urges increased private investment to boost economy

2016/07/19 18:41:02

Taipei, July 19 (CNA) The Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI, 工總) Tuesday urged the government to lead the private sector in increasing investment in a bid to help the local economy climb out of the current doldrums.

The CNFI issued the economic white paper Tuesday, the first economic advisory document presented by the business group to the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) government, which was sworn in on May 20.

In the white paper, the CNFI listed 10 priority areas for local economic development: industry, energy, environmental and safety/health policies, fair trade and consumers, taxation and financial policies, labor/human resources policies, international trade, cross strait exchanges, intellectual property rights, and a policy for the young generation.

Speaking to the press, CNFI Chairman Hsu Sheng-hsiung (許勝雄) said that in the past 10 years, local investment only rose 17.19 percent, while the country witnessed its excess savings rate rise to 14.62 percent from 5.73 percent during the period, indicating that the local market is awash in idle money.

Hsu said that the government should come up with effective measures to transform such a large chunk of idle money into investments by encouraging the private sector to invest more, which could create new jobs and boost income and eventually strengthen the economy.

Several major economic think tanks have slashed their forecasts of Taiwan's economic growth for 2016 to less than 1 percent amid weak global demand and slowing domestic investment and consumption.

"Whether Taiwan's economy will grow at a pace of 1 percent this year is completely up to whether the private sector will increase their investments," Hsu said.

In terms of cross strait policies, the government should continue to push for economic exchanges and industrial cooperation, and to do so, the government should build an appropriate interaction model, Hsu said.

After Tsai, the chairwoman of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, took the helm, cross strait ties have been overshadowed by a sense of uncertainty due to her reluctance to recognize the "1992 consensus," a tacit understanding between the two sides of the strait that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret its meaning.

As for the labor market, Hsu said that Taiwan's working hours currently stand at 2,086 hours a year, lagging behind Hong Kong's and Singapore's 2,392 hours and South Korea's 2,142 hours.

Hsu said that he hoped that labor leaders and employers will reach a consensus on raising the ceiling on monthly overtime working hours from the current 46 hours to 54 hours in a bid to raise the country's competitive edge.

The CNFI sent the white paper to the Cabinet Tuesday. Hsu will lead a delegation to visit Tsai on July 28 to personally present the white paper to the president.

(By Yang Shu-min and Frances Huang)