The Government and the Opposition Should Not Squabble Over the 6:3:3 Issue
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 4, 2011
Summary: During the 2008 election, KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou promised "6:3:3." What he meant was that if elected, he would increase the economic growth rate to 6%, decrease the unemployment rate to 3%, and raise per capita income to US$30,000 a year. This outdated campaign promise has recently become a target for opposition DPP attacks against the ruling KMT. Both sides have already defaulted on 6:3:3. A war of words is premature. Frankly, both maior parties have shown no improvement. Both are living in the past.
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During the 2008 election, KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou promised "6:3:3." What he meant was that if elected, he would increase the economic growth rate to 6%, decrease the unemployment rate to 3%, and raise per capita income to US$30,000 a year. This outdated campaign promise has recently become a target for opposition DPP attacks against the ruling KMT. Both sides have already defaulted on 6:3:3. A war of words is premature. Frankly, both major parties have shown no improvement. Both are living in the past.
DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen says that Ma and his staffers promised that 6:3:3 would be achieved in only four years. She says they are now claiming their promise was for eight years, not four. The DPP accuses the KMT of changing its story on the campaign promise it made four years ago.
Frankly, such accusations mean very little. As we all know, soon after the KMT regained power in 2008, the global financial crisis struck. Every nation on earth was affected. Not a single world leader who took office in 2008 was able to fulfill his campaign promises regarding economic growth. Not Barak Obama in the United States. Not Lee Myung-bak in South Korea. Attacking the ruling administration on this issue is unlikely to win public sympathy.
Would such a goal take four years to achieve, or eight years? Common sense tells us it cannot be reached in four years. Consider the US$30,000 per capita income goal. The per capita income on Taiwan in 2007 was only US$17,592. To reach the $US$30,000 goal in four years without a change in the exchange rate, one would have to achieve a 15% annual economic growth rate. Is the KMT foolish enough to make such an impossible campaign promise?
The KMT has dug in its heels and denied reneging on its 6:3:3 promise. It insists that its 6:3:3 promise was an eight year target. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, it is afraid to face facts. A US$30,000 national income in four years is as unlikely as the sun rising in the west. This year per capita income on Taiwan may exceed US$20,000. In order to reach US$30,000 by 2015, the annual economic growth rate would have to be nearly 10%. Is that possible? Of course not.
A reasonable estimate would put annual average income growth at 5% per year. In which case per capita income by 2015 would be US$25,000 or so. To increase the national income to US$30,000 would be possible only with a sudden increase in the value of the NT dollar. Per capita income is figured in U.S. dollars. Even then, the NT dollar would have to increase 20% in value. In other words, the exchange rate would have to increase to NT$26 to US$1. Although not impossible, it is highly unlikely.
Is an average annual economic growth of 6% over two four year terms possible? Let's look at the numbers. That should enable us to evaluate the likelihood. Between 2008 and 2010, the annual average growth rate was less than 4%. The DGBAS's economic growth forecast for this year is only 4.81%. Given the global economic situation, that number will probably have to be lowered. The estimated growth rate for 2012 is 4.58%. According to these figures, if one wants to achieve an average annual growth rate of 6% over eight years, then the growth rate between 2013 and 2015 must be 8 to 9% to make up for the 6% growth rate over the past five years. That is not merely difficult. It is impossible.
The DPP is relentlessly attacking the KMT for reneging on 6:3:3. It believes it is hitting the KMT where it hurts. Therefore it refuses to let up. It persists in demagoguing the issue. But soon after Ma took office, the global financial tsunami struck. Economic growth in every nation was affected. The DPP persists in attacking the KMT on this point. The public however, is not impressed. These DPP tactics amount to living in the past. After all, if the DPP really believes 6:3:3 is feasible, why is it presenting voters with a ten year plan?
Based on the above data, four years or eight years makes no difference. The bottom line is, the 6:3:3 promise cannot be fulfilled. The KMT however, refuses to admit that its 6:3:3 promise cannot be fulfilled. Its officials insist "It is not impossible in the future." They are living in a dream world.
Consider the current global economic situation. Examine the world's major economies. Japan is sinking into recession. The United States and Europe each have their own intractable problems with economic fundamentals and debt. Even without a recession, a slowdown in Europe and America is certain. The Chinese mainland and other emerging economies must cope with inflation, bad debt, and domestic problems. They have troubles of their own. Therefore no matter which party wins the election next year, it will face severe economic challenges. Instead of meaningless squabbling over 6:3:3, they should offer better economic proposals for the future of the nation, and better strategies in response to the economic downturn.