Taipei, March 18 (CNA) Central Taiwan's Taichung, Changhua and Nantou are expected to play a greater role in the government's upcoming "forward-looking infrastructure development plan," which prioritizes infrastructure investment in areas such as rail transport and green energy, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Saturday.
The new plan is not only a way to boost Taiwan's economy; more importantly, the government hopes the plan will build a sustainable foundation for growth of Taiwan's industries, to help them compete on the international level, Tsai said during a speech at an event hosted by the Entrepreneur Club in Taichung.
The plan is expected to improve the rail, water supply, digital and new energy systems in central Taiwan, where many of Taiwan's small and medium-sized enterprises are based and where there is abundant manufacturing expertise and innovation, the president said.
The Executive Yuan estimated Thursday that the infrastructure plan -- which covers the five categories of rail transport, water environment, green energy, digital development and urban-rural development -- will cost a maximum of NT$1 trillion (US$32.74 billion) over eight years and create 40,000 to 50,000 jobs.
The Cabinet said it hopes a special budget bill for the plan will clear the Legislature during the current legislative session, so that implementation can start in August.
At a separate event at the Taichung City government on Saturday, Tsai pledged to give the city government NT$4.2 billion (US$137.51 million) to build an international exhibition center in the city so that "the world can see our good technologies."
The exhibition center will serve as an important platform to promote industrial exchange and international cooperation in central Taiwan, Tsai said, adding that it will also bring crowds and therefore boost the hospitality business and the advertising and event planning sectors.
Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who was present at the event, said his government has been promoting the development of the smart machinery and aerospace industries in Taichung in recent years, and added that the industrial sector is in great need of an exhibition center.
He said his government has proposed expanding the scope of the center to the Executive Yuan, which is currently reviewing its proposal.
(By Lu Hsin-hui and Christie Chen)