Policy Guidelines set out by Premier Chen

Date: 2024-02-20
Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan
The following is a translation of select portions of the premier's report.

Speaker Han, Deputy Speaker Chiang, esteemed members of the Legislature:
I would like to deliver my policy report to the Legislature, centering on the three themes of innovation with a strong, sustainable economy; happiness with a compassionate, resilient homeland; and democracy with a firm, global footing.

Innovation with a strong, sustainable economy

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the government passed a special act to boost economic and social resilience and share the proceeds of growth in the post-pandemic era, which allocated a special budget utilizing NT$379.88 billion (US$12.1 billion) of surplus tax revenue from the year prior. The special budget included injection of NT$20 billion (US$635.1 million) for the National Health Insurance fund, NT$30 billion (US$952.6 million) for the Labor Insurance fund, and NT$50 billion (US$1.6 billion) for the Taiwan Power Company. In addition, NT$141.65 billion (US$4.5 billion) was used to distribute a one-off cash payment to every person, with a 99.7% uptake, which was estimated to have contributed 0.3 percentage points to the gross domestic product's (GDP) growth rate last year.
Under its core policies of the "five plus two" innovative industries plan and the Six Core Strategic Industries plan, this administration has approved the Taiwan Chip-based Industrial Innovation Program and the AI Taiwan Action Plan 2.0. Furthermore, investment in Taiwan's R&D funding has shown a yearly upward trend, in 2022 reaching NT$898 billion (US$28.5 billion) and accounting for 3.96% of GDP.
The government continues to push forward its Three Major Programs for Investing in Taiwan. Since 2019, the programs have attracted over 1,450 companies with total investment surpassing NT$2.1 trillion (US$66.7 billion), bolstering R&D and high-end manufacturing within Taiwan. Furthermore, the Executive Yuan has approved the new construction or expansion of nine science parks since 2016.
To cultivate high-level talent in domestic industries, the government has approved the establishment of 12 specialized colleges for research in fields related to national key industries, under the authority of the National Key Fields Industry-University Cooperation and Skilled Personnel Training act. The International Talent Taiwan Office and Long-term Retention of Migrant Workers Service Center have also recently been inaugurated. By the end of last year, over 57,000 foreign professionals held work permits; 13,000 foreign special professionals had been granted work permits; and over 23,000 people had been designated intermediate skilled workers through a program for long-term retention of migrant workers.
Amidst a shifting geopolitical landscape, Taiwan's cumulative investment in New Southbound Policy countries rose to US$61 billion from 2016 to the end of 2023, an increase of 86.5%. Investment in Japan also reached about US$215 million in 2023, a 193.12% jump in growth over the previous year.
Adapting to rapid changes in agricultural environments, the government is proactively building safety systems for farming, fishery and livestock industries; strengthening farmland hydraulic engineering and irrigation infrastructure; and investing NT$12.6 billion (US$400.1 million) to construct a nationwide cold chain logistics system, thus raising Taiwan's industrial competitiveness.
This administration is actively expanding renewable energy sources to respond to climate change. At the end of last year, renewable energy installations had a total generation capacity of 17.9 gigawatts (GW), an eightfold increase over 2016. We will continue striding toward our goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
To strengthen the resilience of Taiwan's water environment, the government has allocated NT$160 billion (US$5.1 billion) to the water infrastructure component of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program. By deploying strategies to develop new water sources, improve water conservation, reallocate water supplies and expand reserve capacity, our initiatives have increased Taiwan's water resource supply by 2.21 million metric tons per day, equivalent to 20% of the total water volume used each day.
We have recently launched TPASS, a commuter card allowing one month of unlimited journeys within a specific region across multiple modes of public transport. Following their introduction, the passes have been used about 330 million times and we expect to see an increase of 5% in public transport passenger volume and a reduction of 5% in road traffic accidents. The government has also allocated NT$45.627 billion (US$1.4 billion) to fund a project to fully electrify and double-track the Hualien-Taitung railway line, which began work in April last year and is estimated to officially open to the public in October 2027.
To support highway infrastructure, the government has greenlighted road improvement projects for Provincial Highway 74 and National Freeway Nos. 1, 3 and 8. We are also working with private carriers to provide Happiness Bus and Happiness Taxi services for rural areas. By the end of last year, public transportation service coverage in rural and remote areas rose to about 92%.
I would like to thank the Legislature for passing the third and final reading of a basic act for road traffic safety on December 1 last year. This January, the Executive Yuan also approved a national road traffic safety outline plan (2024-2027), which will serve as top-level guidelines for improving road safety in Taiwan.
Regarding transportation at airports and seaports, Taichung International Airport, Matsu Nangan Airport and Taitung Airport have all completed upgrade projects. The construction of Terminal 3 at Taoyuan International Airport and a taxiway upgrade at Kaohsiung International Airport are now underway. The government is also actively promoting tourism for Taiwan's outlying islands, with the New Taima Ferry and the Penghu Ferry beginning service operations last year.
A special budget of NT$5.3 billion (US$168.3 million) has been allocated by this administration to implement the Accelerated and Expanded Inbound Tourism Promotion Program. The program encourages domestic and overseas travel agencies to work together to organize tour groups to travel to Taiwan. Last year, the program reached its annual target of six million foreign tourist arrivals ahead of schedule on December 15.

Happiness with a compassionate, resilient homeland

Our government has proactively advanced policy measures to counter declining birth rates, allocating NT$120.1 billion (US$3.8 billion) to the issue this year. We have increased childrearing allowances and child care subsidies for children ages 0-2, and eliminated means-testing for those benefits as well. We have expanded the volume of affordable education and care services, and reduced preschool student-teacher ratios. This year, for preschools we are also promoting the extension of after-school care services and beginning trials for drop-in care services. All these efforts foster a friendlier environment for childrearing and lighten parents' burdens.
According to the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2022) published last December by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Taiwan ranked third in math, fourth in science and fifth in reading, out of 81 participating countries and economies. When Taiwanese students participated in the 2022 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS 2022), they scored No. 1 worldwide in the categories of civic knowledge, endorsement of gender equality, immigrants' rights and equal rights for all ethnic groups, and attitudes towards environmental protection.
This administration has introduced a plan and supporting measures to reduce the disparity between the costs of attending public versus private schools. Starting February this year, students attending private universities and colleges can receive a fixed-sum waiver to alleviate the cost of tuition and other fees, and students attending senior and vocational high schools can now receive free tuition. Furthermore, the government has allocated NT$22.2 billion (US$704.9 million) to provide for a tuition loan subsidy scheme.
In order to realize housing justice, the government has promoted a social housing strategy which integrates a construction program with a separate subleasing and management program to expand the supply of housing. By the end of last month, we were about 79% of the way toward meeting our target to build 120,000 social housing units, and about 89% of the way toward achieving our goal to facilitate the signing of 80,000 social housing unit rental contracts through the subleasing and management program.
The central government's ongoing NT$30 billion (US$952.6 million) expanded rent subsidy program introduced additional measures in July last year with the goal of subsidizing rental payments for 500,000 households across the life of the program. In addition, NT$16.5 billion (US$523.9 million) was allocated from the post-pandemic special budget to fund an owner-occupied housing loan support program for households of middle-class incomes and below. Households that met the criteria were eligible to receive a one-time NT$30,000 (US$953) payment, and more than 480,000 households had their payments approved between June last year and the end of this January.
The Executive Yuan has increased "eight plus one" social welfare benefits, including living subsidies to disadvantaged households, national pension benefits and the monthly welfare allowance for elderly farmers to take account of consumer price index rises. We have also raised tax exemptions and deductions and implemented other tax reduction measures to lighten people's burdens.
Last year, the Ministry of Culture launched a program to grant NT$1,200 (US$38) Culture Points vouchers to young people ages 18 to 21, to be redeemed towards spending on arts and cultural activities. Starting this year, Culture Points has become a permanent policy with eligibility widened to ages 16 to 22.
Taiwan's athletes had an outstanding showing at last year's Asian Games. Going forward, the government will more comprehensively fund and integrate international athletics training institutions alongside robust legal support systems, and continue to implement the Golden Plan 2.0—an upgraded plan that combines specialist selection, training, competition and guidance to prepare Taiwanese athletes for the Olympics in Paris 2024 and beyond. We will foster Taiwan's sports talent and help athletes strive toward higher goals.
To build a secure homeland and a safer society, the Executive Yuan has established its Anti-Fraud Office, amended five anti-fraud laws and set up the 111 government-exclusive SMS platform so that the public can easily identify messages sent by public departments. In addition, the government has integrated the law enforcement capacities of ministries and agencies, cracking down on more than 1,700 telecom fraud groups and seizing more than NT$4.1 billion (US$130.2 million) in illicit proceeds, as well as blocking financial scams to the tune of NT$7.59 billion (US$241 million) through close cooperation with financial institutions.
In order to demonstrate the government's commitment to protecting personal data, we have promoted amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act, and the Preparatory Office of the Personal Data Protection Commission was inaugurated on December 5 last year, implementing and strengthening the legal framework underpinning personal data protection.

Democracy with a firm, global footing

The government's promotion of transitional justice has made a number of concrete advances. This includes the redress of wrongful acts by the state; restoration of victims' rights including providing care and healing; identification and preservation of sites of historical injustices; collection, preservation, research and opening up of political archives; and approving the National Action Program for Transitional Justice Education.
Support for Taiwan from our democratic partners around the world is steadily growing. In June last year Taiwan and the U.S. signed the first agreement under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, and on January 1 this year, a Taiwan-South Korea income tax agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion took effect, which after Japan's is the second such comprehensive income tax agreement between Taiwan and a Northeast Asian nation.
Furthermore, at the end of last year, Taiwan signed bilateral agreements with the U.K., France and Canada relating to trade, science and technology, and investment, respectively, thereby strengthening the interconnectivity and resilience of all our supply chains and facilitating the expansion of global investment by Taiwanese companies.
We are continuing to build up Taiwan's capacity for defense autonomy. The combined national defense budget will this year reach a record high of NT$600.7 billion (US$19.1 billion). Under the indigenous shipbuilding program, the ROC Navy's new-model Auxiliary Rescue and Salvage ship is scheduled to be delivered this year, and the prototype vessel of the Indigenous Defense Submarine program, named Hai Kun, is scheduled for delivery to the navy in 2025. In addition to domestically manufactured armaments and equipment, the nation's armed forces are augmenting their defensive capabilities through purchases from the U.S. The government has also advanced a plan to strengthen and recalibrate the national defense force structure and, beginning this year, the duration of compulsory military service has reverted from four months to one year.
The government has worked hard to create a healthy investment environment, promote sustained and steady economic growth, and revitalize the consumer market. These efforts have produced an average economic growth rate of 3.2% since 2016 and a GDP of more than NT$23 trillion (US$730.3 billion) in 2023. Meanwhile, the Democracy Index 2023, published by Britain's Economist Intelligence Unit, has ranked Taiwan 10th out of 167 countries and territories globally, and the highest in Asia.
Faced with a complex and fluid global economic and industrial outlook, we have optimized innovation, diversified risks and positioned Taiwan globally, displaying to the world the nation's strength and resilience. My administrative team will continue straining every sinew to fortify our national strength, increasing people's sense of happiness, building a strong and sustainable economy, creating a compassionate and resilient homeland, and ensuring our nation stands firm on the international stage. Thank you!
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