Premier touts multibillion-dollar stimulus program

Premier Lin Chuan said at a news conference March 23 in Taipei City that the government's newly introduced Forward-looking Infrastructure Program was crafted to revive the economy by way of expansionary expenditure, with every dollar spent working to boost domestic demand and upgrade national competitiveness.

Covering digital infrastructure, railways, renewable energy, urban-rural development and water resource projects, the FIP has a total budget of around NT$880 billion (US$28.9 billion) and seeks to address Taiwan's infrastructure needs for the next 30 years.

Lin said the FIP is expected to create up to 50,000 jobs, attract around NT$1.777 trillion in investments from state-run and private enterprises and add at least NT$975.9 billion to Taiwan's real gross domestic product in eight years. In response to concerns regarding the cost of the initiative, the premier said that, due to expected increases in GDP and tax revenue, the government will not take on additional debt.

Among the five projects planned, the NT$561 billion national infrastructure program for railway and balanced urban-rural development was unveiled at the same conference, following announcements of infrastructure projects in the other three areas earlier this week.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Chen Tan said the railway development efforts aim to upgrade and connect the Taiwan Railways Administration's round-the-island network and the high-speed rail line that runs along the nation's western coast. Integration plans will also focus on local mass transit systems in the planning stages or under construction in such places as the central and northern cities of Taichung and Keelung, in addition to the systems in Taipei and southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung City.

Ho Chen said convenient public transportation is indispensable in densely populated nations such as Taiwan. Well-planned, interconnected railway systems can significantly contribute to regional economic development, tourism and cityscape enhancement as well as carbon-reduction efforts, he added.

Regarding urban-rural development, Minister without Portfolio Chang Jing-sen said planned projects include 1,000 kilometers of road improvements, the establishment of up to 2,000 community-level facilities for long-term care, construction of community service facilities at 2,750 elementary and high schools, and renovation of downtown areas in 40 townships. In addition, the government plans to build 20 new business parks at locations around the nation, Chang added.

Lin said the FIP is crucial for heralding a new era of national development. The government will continue working to ensure successful implementation of the program, he added.

Source: Taiwan Today