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Ma calls for unity to boost economy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou's first greeting to the nation in 2014 was an exhortation for people to unite and boost Taiwan's economic status.

The president's New Year's speech stressed that there was only one thing to focus on this year: that the Taiwanese people put their strengths together and work to elevate the economy. Admitting that the previous year had been “rather hard,” Ma said that despite difficulties, Taiwan now has a better grip on inflation and job-loss rates than other developing countries, though a lower-than-expected average salary and gross domestic product percentage still fall short of government expectations. “These are grueling challenges for us, and they are also the most pressing issues.”

The government will be implementing a series of drastic changes and reforms to bolster the economy, while also leading private industries to unite in pursuing the same goals.

Ma suggested a “3 + 1” finance policy, which is to include public investment, founding enterprises and urban renewal as next steps in the nation's near-term development while also putting an emphasis on the launch of new free economic pilot zones.

“This means that the government has ignited the sparks of an economical revival — this year will be one for Taiwan to make a breakthrough,” Ma announced.

“I understand that the status of the economy is key to the people's happiness, so on the first day of this year, I am promising all Taiwanese people that the government is determined to prioritize the economy on its agenda,” said Ma.

New public investments will be centered on the free economic pilot zone at Taoyuan International Airport, attracting industries to develop in port areas through airport services, said Ma. “The pilot zone will create a potential profit of NT$2.3 trillion and 260,000 jobs,” Ma added.

The government will also focus on training and encouraging citizens to found their own creative businesses, aiming to establish over 350 new enterprises over the course of the next five years, Ma said.

Collaboration Between Ruling and Opposition Parties: Ma

As a demonstration of his determination for Taiwan to take part in economic integration, Ma announced that the government has formed a strategy team to devise international trade and finance blueprints, a team whose meetings he plans to host in a few days.

Ma asked former Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) to establish a committee to push for Taiwan's involvement in economical integration, and said that the committee should invite the opposition parties as well as labor and business groups to brainstorm together.

Does Anyone Still Believe in Ma?: DPP

The president reached out to the DPP multiple times, saying that both the KMT and the opposition party should put their grudges and prejudices behind in collaborating to boost Taiwan's competitiveness.

“President Ma has said many times that he would try to boost the economy, but he never kept his promises. Is there anyone who believes in Ma now?” asked Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Chang Chun-han (張惇涵).

According to Chang, Ma has claimed countless times that he would improve the economy, but it was a pity that his declarations had never come true.

An abridged version of the president's New Year's Day Address can be found on page 15.

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President Ma Ying-jeou, front row second from left, Vice President Wu Den-yi, front row left, and Premier Jiang Yi-huah, front row third left, attend the New Year's Day flag raising ceremony in front of the Presidential Office. (CNA)

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