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Taiwan civil service minister opposes new MOF investment platform

Chang tries to calm fears the pension fund is running out of money

Taiwan civil service minister opposes new MOF investment platform

Minister of Civil Service Chang Che-shen yeterday publicly opposed plans by the Ministry of Finance to set up a new investment platform to collect NT$14 trillion from major state-run funds.
There is no need to establish the new structure because channels of investment already work well, Chang told lawmakers. He was appearing at the Legislature's Judicial Affairs Commission in his capacity of chairman of the Public Service Pension Fund, one of the funds reportedly involved in the new structure.
Chang told lawmakers he would not agree to the pension fund being used for the MOF project, which is designed to raise investments in public construction projects. The government has identified major construction spending as a way for Taiwan to find its way out of the global economic crisis.
The MOF never asked the fund management's opinions on the issue, but when they eventually do, the fund will be strong and clear in expressing its views, Chang told lawmakers.
The existing government funds and their operational budgets were already being supervised by the Legislative Yuan, so there was no need to form yet another fund structure, he said.
Chang said he didn't oppose spending fund money on public construction projects in the event it had a surplus available, but communication had to be clear.
The minister allayed fears from lawmakers that the Public Service Pension Fund was headed for bankruptcy, even though it had recorded a net loss of more than NT$86 billion by the end of last year and NT$2 billion for January 2009. Chang asked lawmakers to give him more time to put the situation right, though he didn't exclude tending his resignation.
His exchanges with legislators touched off a war of words about responsibility for the fund's losses, as he seemed to imply that its problems began under the previous Democratic Progressive Party administration of President Chen Shui-bian.
DPP lawmaker Lawrence Kao wondered how Chang succeeded in generating profits when he headed the ruling Kuomintang's business interests, while losing money as the manager of the state-run pension fund.
Chang said the fund was ready to increase investment in the stock market if the economy was looking up for the second and third quarter of the year. The government has forecast that Taiwan's economy might see an improvement by the end of the year.
The official prediction for the Gross Domestic Product is an overall fall of 2.97 percent for the year, though some analysts have forecast declines ranging from 3 percent to 11 percent. Exports have dropped sharply while unemployment has been rising.
Speaking to lawmakers, Chang said he also opposed plans to add a total of 110 advisors to government departments. His ministry would only approve 38 new positions for the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan, bringing the total number of such advisers across government departments to 640, reports said.


Updated : 2021-08-05 06:30 GMT+08:00