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Gov't inaugurates National Development Council

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan officially inaugurated Wednesday the National Development Council (NDC), a merging of several Cabinet-level agencies aimed at streamlining the way major policies are developed.

Speaking at the NDC's opening ceremony, President Ma Ying-jeou expressed high hopes that the council will take the lead on major projects, including an overhaul of the military and regional economic integration.

Many of the key issues the NDC must tackle are complex, Ma noted, citing the example of Taiwan's troubled transition to an all-volunteer military force, which he said is tied to issues of manpower, military strength and social cost.

Taiwan's bids to join in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership regional trade blocs, meanwhile, concern economic development, foreign affairs and even relations with China, he said.

The challenges mean that the NDC will not focus solely on economics but rather on a wide range of issues that will require “flexible consideration” of the country's overall development.

He called on the council to “take care of everything they need to and leave alone anything they do not.”

The newly formed council is charged with the responsibilities formerly belonging to the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD); the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission; and the Public Construction Commission.

Also at the opening ceremony were Premier Jiang Yi-huah, former Vice President Vincent Siew and former CEPD Ministers Shirley Kuo (郭婉容) and Christina Liu (劉憶如), who is also Kuo's daughter.

Both Kuo and Liu were promoted to become ministers of finance after their tenures at the CEPD, the first mother and daughter to have both held the top financial office in Taiwan. They, however, also shared the fate of resigning as finance ministers over the same issue of capital gains tax.

NDC Minister Kuan Chung-ming said his council's policies will seek to promote a free market and not intervene with business operations.

The government is responsible for building a friendly business and investment environment, he added.

Center of Attention

The merging of three Cabinet-level agencies into the NDC puts the new council at the center of Taiwan's policymaking, Kuan said at the opening ceremony.

The NDC's goals will concern development in terms of the economy, society, population structure, land planning and government administration, Kuan said.

For now, the NDC's priority will be implementing Free Economic Pilot Zones and proposing reforms to build Taiwan into a hub for creative industries, he said.

Also at the opening, former Vice President Vincent Siew praised the creation of the NDC as a milestone for administrative streamlining and said he expects the council can be an affective channel for the voice of the people that will lead the country to prosperity.

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President Ma Ying-jeou, center, former Vice President Vincent Siew, center right, Premier Jiang Yi-huah, fourth right, and guests hold the unveiling ceremony of the National Development Council in Taipei, yesterday. (CNA)

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