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China Times: The finance minister's hurt feelings

China Times: The finance minister's hurt feelings

Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der's recent comments on central government revenue allocations to local governments that oppose a cross-strait trade pact and his defense of Premier Wu Den-yih have given the public a better understanding of the limits of his intellect.
Lee said his "feelings were hurt" when the public blamed Wu for his decision to back off from the plan to increase house taxes.
Even more surprising was his claim that "the finances of the Republic of China are the best in the world." Not only local academics have rebutted his remarks. Fitch Ratings also slashed Taiwan's sovereign rating to A from A+ last September -- far behind Singapore's AAA, Hong Kong's AA and Australia's AA+.
It is obvious Taiwan's financial structure is markedly worsening and the country is facing a serious problem.
By the end of 2009, international rating agencies estimated that debt accounted for 38 percent of Taiwan's GDP. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. If Taiwan's hidden debt were included in the calculation, the percentage would surge to 157 percent of GDP.
The deterioration in government finances is nothing new. It can be traced back to the era of former President Chen Shui-bian, when many industries relocated overseas. The main cause, however, was the government's large-scale tax reduction over the past 20 years -- motivated solely by the desire to gain votes.
It is disappointing that President Ma Ying-jeou's administration keeps the cycle going by continually coming out with tax-cut incentives without professional debate or social consensus, further widening Taiwan's wealth gap and damaging public confidence in the government.
If Lee's feelings were really hurt, he should have felt a strong sadness because of Taiwan's huge financial problem, rather than worry about his boss's feelings. (April 3, 2010) (By Flor Wang)




Updated : 2021-07-30 16:46 GMT+08:00