Amidst Election Fever Remember Economic Revitalization
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 21, 2014
Executive Summary: Taiwan has not enjoyed any rest from the beginning of this year. In
March the student movement erupted. It was followed by the rancid oil
crisis, the nine in one election nominations, and the current food
safety crisis. Confronted with all manner of unexpected political and
social crises, politicians, high-ranking officials, and opinion leaders
are exhausted. Nevertheless our current difficulties must be confronted.
The economy must continue to grow, unemployment must be reduced, wages
must be increased. Only then can long-term stability be assured.
Full Text Below:
Taiwan has not enjoyed any rest from the beginning of this year. In March the student movement erupted. It was followed by the rancid oil crisis, the nine in one election nominations, and the current food safety crisis. Confronted with all manner of unexpected political and social crises, politicians, high-ranking officials, and opinion leaders are exhausted. Nevertheless our current difficulties must be confronted. The economy must continue to grow, unemployment must be reduced, wages must be increased. Only then can long-term stability be assured.
Ideological disputes are Taiwan's biggest problem. The ruling and opposition parties remain at loggerheads, swords drawn. Supporters of different camps refuse to tolerate each other's beliefs. Anyone concerned about the future of Taiwan, who sees what is happening, can only feel a sense of sadness. We must snap out of our political spell and focus on the revitalization of Taiwan’s economy.
The FSC has done much in this regard. Chairman Tseng has taken three measures to rescue the stock market. Recently he took one more. Each of these measures will not be equally effective, and their overall impact remains to be seen. But we applaud his good intentions. The government is not limited to the FSC. It has many other agencies. We urge responsible agencies to work together and adopt three more measures.
The first measure is to increase the supply of housing for young people. Housing is a major problem for young people. In fact, it is a major problem for everyone on the island. The government has introduced many policies. But so far none of them have worked. They include the luxury tax, taxing the rich, and increased taxes on anyone with three or more housing units. These alas, are all temporary solutions. The government plans to implement a combined real estate tax/land tax. But which bill will be adopted remains unclear. Whether the legislature can pass the bill remains in question. Even if it is passed, the immediate effects following implementation are still unclear.
We believe the best way is to emulate Singapore and Hong Kong. Public housing needs to be delinked from the market economy. In this respect, it is similar to the minimum wage and subsidies for low-income families. It corrects the deficiencies in the labor market. Under the market economy, housing is unlikely to be affordable to the economically disadvantaged any time in the foreseeable future. Singapore and Hong Kong once had the same problem. In response, they built large numbers of public housing units. In essence this created a "non-market economy" in housing. Housing is then provided on the basis of “from each according to his ability, and to each according to his needs.”
We recommend a three-pronged approach to the problem. One. In some cities housing prices and salaries are higher. In some districts floor areas grossly exceed the maximum allowable floor area. Raising the maximum allowable floor area could be used as an incentive. It could persuade construction company to become involved in equity investment. The government would not need the financial resources to build large quantities of public housing. Also, much public land has remained idle for decades. This includes military land and living quarters for employees of public agencies. These can be put to good use. One need not worry about the impact of the bid price on market prices. One can use these lands as equity and arrange joint ventures with construction companies, The government could thereby acquire large quantities of public housing and financial resources.
Furthermore, public housing need not be constructed in the city center. It can be constructed on the outskirts of the metropolitan area. MRT connections however, are essential. For example, between Keelung and Taipei, land prices are quite low. The straight-line distance from Keelung to Taipei is quite short. If the MRT can be extended, large quantities of public housing could be provided. Public housing should also emulate the private sector. Marketing firms should plan the architectural styles and floor areas, and ensure quality control. Lastly, new primary and secondary schools should be established in the district to ensure the availability of schooling.
The second measure is the Free Enterprise Pilot Zones (FEPZs). There is no reason this bill should remained stalled. We call on the opposition parties to cease opposition for the sake of opposition. The restrictions on Mainland capital can be the same as those outside the FEPZ. Other laws can be relaxed to improve efficiency, These include land use, single window service, specialized courts, and so on. The legislature should adopt these proposals post haste. Let the FEPZs begin operation early, attract domestic and foreign investments to Taiwan, and create jobs.
The third measure is strengthening university-industry collaboration. Let academia take part in the energy industry. Academics currently face a major problem. Even in the applied sciences, most professors' studies are totally unrelated to Taiwan's industries. [???? ] just published an article its journal. When students they trained students enter industry, the must starte from scratch. This is a waste of talent and resources. We urge the government to immediately adopt measures to provide applied sciences research grants. Industry should be willing to adopt the recommendations in Masters and PhD theses or professors plans, and provide partial funding.
When authors of research projects apply for government grants, they should be sent to the relevant technology companies for review. In the case of duplications, the government should promote their integration, Smaller plans that are similar should be merged into larger research projects. They can also suggest new topics Taiwan's industrial development is at stake. This will avoid overspending. Research funding for 100 researchers can subsidize 150 or even 200 people, More can be done with less.
This three measures have no relation to ideology, The DPP has no reason to oppose them. Related bills in the legislature have remained stalled. The opposition should show people it is a responsible party ready to govern, not merely one concerned about electoral advantage, or that engages in opposition merely for the sake of opposition. Only when opposition parties are responsible, can democracy function, and continue to move forward.