'5 plus 2' program aims to elevate industrial base: Tsai
Taipei, Oct. 3 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said her administration's "5 plus 2" industrial innovation development program is aimed at strengthening the country's entire industrial base and does not represent excessive government involvement in the economy.
In an interview with CNA on Oct. 1, Tsai said the program is being carried out based on Taiwan's sound industrial fundamentals and is expected to boost the country's competitiveness in global markets.
The "5 plus 2" industries refer to seven development projects proposed by the government to transform Taiwan's economic and industrial structures.
Among them are a project to turn Taiwan into an "Asia Silicon Valley," along with projects related to biotech, green energy, smart machinery and defense industries.
The vision was criticized in late September by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, 台積電) Chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀), who opposed the idea of the government taking the lead in developing specific sectors because, in his view, government should not tell people in business what to do.
Instead, Chang said, the responsibility of government is to build the country's infrastructure to support the future development of industry.
In the interview Sunday, Tsai disagreed with how Chang characterized the initiative.
"The government does not intend to tell businesses what to do or what not to do," Tsai said. "The government wants to take advantage of Taiwan's existing industrial foundation to help the country upgrade itself at a faster pace and become more competitive."
Citing smart machinery development, Tsai said Taiwan already has a good machinery sector and a competitive IC sector, and the "5 plus 2" program will encourage manufacturers to integrate the two strengths to develop smart machinery for next-generation industries.
In response to Chang's request to strengthen infrastructure, Tsai said her government is well aware of its responsibility on the country's infrastructure and its importance to the development and growth of enterprises in the future.
Commenting on lingering worries over "five shortages" in Taiwan's industrial sector -- water, electricity, land, manpower and talent -- Tsai said her government has paid close attention to the issue.
In particular, Tsai said, the government will do its best to tackle power shortages, especially after Taiwan was hit by a blackout caused by human error at the Tatan Power Plant in Taoyuan on August 15 and reduced supply resulting from a toppled power station tower in Hualien in July during a typhoon.
Tsai said she has instructed the Ministry of Economic Affairs to figure out how to raise Taiwan's operating reserve margin to 10 percent to ensure a steady supply of electricity.
Taiwan's operating reserve margin -- the percentage of generating capacity still available to a grid that can be called on within a short amount of time -- fell below 2 percent in August.
On Monday, high temperatures sent the operating reserve margin down to a relatively low 4.2 percent of total operating capacity, according to Taiwan Power Co., the state-run power supplier.
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