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September 24, 2017

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I'm here to stay, premier says

Premier Lin Chuan on Tuesday rebutted rumors about his possible resignation and added that there were no plans to reshuffle the Cabinet despite low approval ratings.

"Don't expect me to leave (office) tomorrow — I'm staying put," Lin told reporters at a year-end press conference held at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.

The latest poll released by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation on Tuesday put President Tsai Ing-wen's approval rating at 38 percent, the lowest in its record.

Opinion polls conducted by TVBS found the premier's approval rating at 24 percent, slightly lower than that of President Tsai Ing-wen, which stood at 27 percent.

Saying he had always polled lower than Tsai from the time both took office, Lin said the key point was not whether his rating was high but whether the government's policies were perceptible to citizens.

The premier also flatly denied that there were plans to reshuffle members of his Cabinet.

Asked to confirm whether Vice Premier Lin Hsi-yao was set to take a position within the Presidential Office, the premier turned to his deputy seated next to him and said while smiling: "I'm sure if the deputy premier were leaving, it would have to go through me first."

He said that policy decision needed to be approached from a long-term perspective that went beyond the passage of laws themselves, and said it was inevitable that the process would not be able to please everyone involved.

Citing recent controversy behind amendments to the Labor Standards Act as an example, Lin said that the reforms — though criticized by labor and industry alike — would have long-term effects that would improve the nation's prospects.

Looking Toward 2017

Asked to name legislation he wished to see prioritized next year, Lin listed the government's budget proposal, amendments to the Electricity Act and laws that would increase funding sources for senior care.

An energy policy based on renewables is a cornerstone proposal of the Tsai administration, and it will depend heavily on how the government restructures the state-owned Taiwan Power Company.

Lin has proposed a two-stage approach to energy market liberalization: encouraging the entrance of green generation into the energy market and enacting amendments that would focus on reforming the way the domestic market is supplied.

He said Tuesday that the "perceptibility" of government actions would largely be based on passage of the government's NT$1.998 trillion budget, which includes more social and education spending.

Statistics released by the Cabinet-level Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics put proposed social welfare expenditures at NT$477.3 billion, a 3.6 percent increase from 2016.

A hefty NT$17.8 billion was allocated to elderly care, compared to NT$6.7 billion budgeted for 2016.

Meanwhile, the opposition Kuomintang legislative caucus said it would move to "defend taxpayer's wallets" by closely supervising the budget approval process.

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