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September 25, 2017

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Ma urges ministry to improve transport

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that the public's sense of happiness is largely derived from its satisfaction with everyday necessities such as easy access to transportation, which the government is obligated to facilitate to the best of its abilities.

The president made the above comments during the Kuomintang's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, in which Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) gave a report on his ministry's progress.

With regard to "hardware," the government is especially concerned with transportation in remote areas, the president said, adding that although the budget for the Hualien-Taitung Line Electrification Project was set at a relatively low NT$15 billion, it will greatly improve the lives of those residing in the eastern counties.

The government is also pleased that the transportation time between Taipei and Taitung will be reduced to three hours by year-end, Ma said.

The president urged the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to speed up its efforts in completing the railway between Taitung and Pingtung.

As part of the government's newly implemented policies, ordinary vehicle licenses no longer have to be renewed, the president pointed out.

The policy is expected to help the public save an estimated NT$1.1 billion per year.

Airport Challenges

Although the government encountered many problems during the renovation of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport's Terminal 1, the problems themselves were inevitable, because the airport had to remain operational while undergoing the extensive renovations, Ma said.

The president explained that shortly after he took office, mainland Chinese tourists began arriving en masse in July, 2008 via direct cross-strait flights.

At least the most difficult period has passed, and now the government needs to focus on speeding up Terminal 3 progress, Ma said, adding that the airport's expansion is crucial to Taiwan's bid in becoming an Asia-Pacific aviation hub.

The country's tourism industry development fund was set at NT$30 billion, while the government has spent roughly NT$6 billion to NT$7 billion per year, but the gross output is most likely 10 times or even 20 times that amount, Ma said.

Counties, Cities Need to Share Tourism Limelight: Ma

The central government encourages local governments to further develop and promote their own unique features, the president said, citing the recent lantern festivals across Taiwan as fine examples.

These events have attracted people numbering in the millions, Ma said, adding that instead of Taipei being the center of attention, the different counties and cities of Taiwan should share the limelight.

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