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June 28, 2017

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Survey finds support for 'forward-looking' plan lacking

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Only 33 percent of people think the government's "forward-looking infrastructure development plan" can effectively strengthen Taiwan's international competitiveness, a survey by Cathay Financial Holding Co. has found.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents did not support the plan, according to the survey's results, which were released Tuesday.

Among the projects covered by the plan, green energy obtained the most support (31.5 percent), while rail transportation projects gained the least (6.4 percent), the survey found.

Under the proposed infrastructure plan, the government will spend NT$882.49 billion over eight years on five types of infrastructure: rail transportation, water environment, urban and rural development, digital development, and green energy.

Opposition legislators have criticized the plan as a pork-barrel spending program designed mainly to benefit local Democratic Progressive Party leaders in next year's local elections, and they have tried to block consideration of a bill governing the plan.

This has prompted President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to openly urge the public on many occasions to support the plan.

In Cathay Financial Holdings' monthly survey on confidence in Taiwan's economy, meanwhile, indexes on optimism over the current economic situation and economic prospects in the next six months both dropped slightly in June to hit -8.6 and -12.9, respectively.

More than 50 percent of respondents expressed belief that Taiwan's economic growth for 2017 will exceed 1.5 percent, the survey found.

The June optimism index for Taiwan's stock market over the next six months fell to -16.4, down from a peak of -9.4 recorded in May.

The index covering the appetite for investors to take risks in the stock market, meanwhile, declined from -6.1 to -9.0.

Both declines are the first since November 2016, indicating that investors are becoming more cautious when considering investing in the stock market.

Cathay Financial Holdings' indexes are calculated based on the difference between the percentage of respondents who voiced optimism in a specific category and the percentage of those who voiced pessimism in that area.

A negative score means pessimism outweighed optimism in the category.

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