Public investment ‘may reach NT$100 bil.’
The Finance Ministry ( ) said it aims to expedite the administrative processing of public investment contracts, as well as to sign up to NT$100 billion worth of projects by year’s end.
Amid months of exports contraction and weak GDP growth, the Central Bank ( ) in September announced monetary policies that included the first cut to its benchmark interest rate since 2009.
Responding to inquiries on his ministry’s response to the economic downturn, Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford ( ) said the most effective stimulus measure in his arsenal was expanding public investment.
As of Sept. 25, the ministry has signed 87 investments contracts for public projects with a total value of NT$92.2 billion, according to ministry figures.
In the 2015 fiscal year, the Finance Ministry could sign up to NT$100 billion in public investment projects, according to the ministry.
There is limited room for bringing in new contracts as the 2015 fiscal year is nearing its end, but Chang said that for the rest of the year the ministry will expedite progress on existing contracts.
The state has not yet begun capital payments on all existing contracts, Chang said, stressing that there is significant administrative work between the date of signing and the first payment.
Chang said he has asked the Cabinet to enable accelerated progress on existing projects — including the more controversial BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) cases — for a faster injection of state capital into the domestic economy.
In previous years, actual paidin capital per year has ranged between NT$30 billion and NT$34
billion, according to the ministry.
Stock Rescue Until Jan. 16?
Also yesterday, the minister seconded the opinion of a legislator who urged continued state support of the local market until the January general elections.
For the first time in four years, the state-run emergency fund was authorized to act in August after TAIEX plunged into a bear market amid fears of weakening Chinese demand.
Vice Finance Minister Wu Tangchieh ( ) heads a committee that manages the NT$500 billion fund, which is set to meet in Octo- ber to evaluate market conditions and rule on a date for withdrawing state capital.
At t he Legislative Yuan, Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen ( ) urged the Finance Ministry not to withdraw rescue funds until after the presidential and legislative election on Jan. 16.
The lawmaker said the Central Bank’s reduction to its key interest rate signaled dire straits for Taiwan’s economy. In the sensitive 100 days prior to a general election, the ministry should not allow the national security fund to become a polarizing issue that triggers crossparty attacks, she said.
Chang replied in the affirmative. “What the legislator has recommended is very appropriate,” he said.
No Deadline for Withdrawing
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao ( ) asked the vice minister whether there was a deadline for withdrawing the funds. Wu said there was no deadline.
The Finance Ministry will recommend that the funds stay in the market for a longer time to bolster investor confidence amid economic uncertainties at home and abroad, he said.