NDC head: Pilot zone project not battle but debate issue
Central News Agency
2014-06-10 11:05 PM
Taipei, June 10 (CNA) National Development Council (NDC) Chairman Kuan Chung-ming said Tuesday that the legislative screening of a bill on free economic pilot zones need not be a life-or-death battle between the ruling and opposition parties. Calling for a serious debate for the sake of the nation's economy, Kuan said that if it would help the screening process, he would be willing to talk directly with Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Kuan's words came against the background of a looming battle between the ruling and opposition parties over the bill in an upcoming extraordinary meeting of the Legislature. He said that some people and groups have continued to release misinformation about the project, describing it as a monstrous "Godzilla," but have refused to see any other viewpoint or listen to opposing voices. He explained that the goal of the pilot zone scheme is to deregulate and innovate so as to build up new economic momentum and create jobs. He said that although laws could be revised to achieve the same objective, this would be a time-consuming process. He noted that members of the American, European and Japanese chambers of commerce have all conveyed concerns about the bill, as its fate will affect their investments in Taiwan. He also urged those who have doubts about the bill not to overlook the importance of the rest of the world and not to fixate solely on cross-Taiwan Strait issues so that they fail to see the benefits of opening Taiwan's market. Tsai has lashed out at the bill over the past two days in Taichung, central Taiwan, where more than 20 DPP legislators and officials gathered to forge party consensus on major issues, including the economic pilot zone bill, prior to the upcoming extraordinary legislative session. According to Tsai, the bill is an empty shell and some of its clauses could even be said to be "blank checks." She has stressed that the battle on the issue will be fierce during the extraordinary session. Tsai also said that deregulation will not be without harm and added that the party will push for revisions of the government's strategy for industrial development. After the two-day DPP meeting, Shih Jun-ji, former chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission and one of the participants, criticized the economic pilot zone project, saying that it lacks innovation and that the most problematic point is the deregulation the project will entail, which he described as an intentional opening up of a back door. Shih expressed misgivings about the project, which includes tax incentives and allowing Chinese to come to Taiwan for business and work, as well as allowing 830 items of currently banned Chinese agricultural raw materials to be processed in Taiwan and marked "made in Taiwan," which he said would hurt the brands, as well as farmers and the overall market. Another participant, former Finance Minister Lin Chuan, said that one of the consensuses reached at the meeting is that the DPP will call a "citizens' economic conference" to engage in wide-ranging dialogue with people from all walks of life and offer a new mode and economic strategy for Taiwan. In response to the DPP's criticism, President Ma Ying-jeou said that Tsai has a pre-set stance on the issue that he said leaves no room for dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties. (By Justine Su, Milly Lin, Claudia Liu and Lilian Wu)
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