President Tsai’s remarks at year-end press conference

by Office of the President ROC official website / Dec 31, 2016

On the morning of December 31, President Tsai Ing-wen attended a year-end press conference at the Presidential Office for the domestic and international press corps. In her year-end address to the assembled journalists, President Tsai declared that the government during the coming year would make an all-out effort to boost the economy, continue forward with major reforms, respond to changing international conditions, maintain peace and stability, and seriously address divisive issues. The president also called on all the people of Taiwan to face challenges with unity and together ring in the year 2017.

The following is a translation of President Tsai’s remarks:

Friends from the media, fellow countrymen:
Good morning!

I’m very happy to see you. I would like to use today’s address to report to the people of Taiwan on two matters. The first is what the government has done in 2016. The second is what the government will do in 2017.

On May 20, my administration took on the heavy responsibility of governing this nation.

The 5+2 industrial innovation program, which will play a key role in the restructuring of our economy, is being implemented step by step. The Shalun Green Energy Science City project was launched on November 6, and the Taiwan International Agricultural Development Company was founded on December 5. Also, the headquarters for the “Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency” was formally opened on December 25. And the headquarters of our biomedical industry initiative is scheduled to open in early 2017.

On the food safety front, the Organization Act of Chemical and Toxic Substances Bureau, Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan, has been enacted, and the Chemical and Toxic Substances Bureau has now been established. This constitutes an important foundation for the “Five Links of Food Safety” that we are working to create.

As for our social safety net, enactment of the Housing Act ensures stronger support for social housing in terms of land acquisition as well as funding and human resources. Also, our Long-Term Care 2.0 program is now underway on a pilot basis, and is gradually bringing about long-term care services that can be “found, seen, and accessed.”

In the area of labor rights, a recent amendment to the Employment Service Act greatly advances the human rights of foreign migrant laborers. Elsewhere, to raise the minimum wage and implement a five-day work week while still affording enterprises a degree of flexibility, we have passed an amendment to the Labor Standards Act. I want to emphasize that Taiwan’s labor environment is improving.

We are very clear about the pace of our measures. We are building a solid foundation for Taiwan’s future development. Our task in 2016 was to “drive the piles,” so to speak. In 2017, we will move quickly ahead with “construction.” These are the two most critical years for Taiwan. The new government has decided to take on all difficulties right from the start because we firmly believe that, in order for the people to enjoy the fruits later, the government must do the tough labor first.

Next year, my administration will be zeroing in on the following four main focal points:

First, we will make a concerted effort to boost Taiwan’s economy. This will be our most important task in 2017.

The economy has gradually picked up steam this past year, but it is still not strong enough. The government has a responsibility to use public policy and investments to create new momentum, and make the economy more active and resilient, so that it can emerge stronger.

Beginning next year, in an effort to escape from our current economic doldrums and inject new vitality for growth, the government will take a two-pronged approach. One is to “accelerate measures to restructure the economy”; two is to “expand infrastructure investment across-the-board.”

At the time of my inauguration this past May 20, I said that in order to completely transform Taiwan’s economy we must bravely set out to build a “New Model for Economic Development” for Taiwan. To get this very difficult economic restructuring process started, over the past seven months we have completed preparations for several economic development programs, and made the necessary budgetary appropriations. The relevant government agencies, moreover, are hard at work drafting new legislation and amending existing ones.

Economic restructuring is the key test of our ability to execute policy. As soon as plans are complete, legislative hurdles are cleared, and annual budgetary appropriations have been made, we must press full speed ahead with implementing economic development strategies that impact people’s lives—including the 5+2 industrial innovation program, renovation of old residential buildings, construction of social housing, long-term care, and childcare.

Execution of these policies and programs will require integration of human resources, funding, and technologies. It will also call for planned utilization of national space, division of labor and cooperation among the central and local governments, and regional joint governance – all highly complex undertakings.

For this reason, the government is going to establish powerful mechanisms for coordination and integration in order to improve its capacity for execution and ensure the smooth implementation of our various policies and projects.

On another front, we will also adopt forward-looking, proactive fiscal policies to expand the full range of infrastructure investments, including local development as well as the basic infrastructure needed by the next generation.

The government is actively gauging the level of demand for local development, and in the future will attach high priority to multi-county projects that put a premium on regional joint governance, and to important infrastructure in relatively underdeveloped regions that have been hampered in the past by insufficient investment. This should be an effective way to spur overall local development and promote inter-regional balance.

As for the overarching infrastructure needs of the next generation, we are gauging demand for particular types of projects, including the following:

First is the build-up of a green rail transport system that integrates Taiwan High Speed Rail, the Taiwan Railways Administration, and local mass rapid transit systems.

Second, there is infrastructure for broadband and super-broadband cloud communications.

Third is engineering projects to combat flooding and droughts likely to accompany climate change. Read more…

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