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DPP upbeat, KMT critical on Chen and his Cabinet

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  • By Wang Chien-hao and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday expressed optimism over the inauguration of a new Cabinet headed by Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), while opposition lawmakers outlined the challenges facing it.

The DPP caucus said it hoped that Chen’s Cabinet would unite Taiwanese, take care of the masses, and win the trust of the public and the international community.

“Chen is genteel and down to earth. I believe that he will meet public expectations in pushing reforms,” DPP caucus secretary-general Wu Chi-ming (吳琪銘) said.

Photo: Lo Pei-de, Taipei Times

DPP caucus deputy secretary-general Hung Sun-han (洪申翰) said that the geopolitical changes in the Taiwan Strait and the international community call for Chen to be grounded and to adopt a “new mindset.”

Hung praised the composition of the new Cabinet, with the addition of more female ministers and officials to represent the public.

He added that he hoped Chen’s team would be caring, thoughtful and create new opportunities for the nation.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus called on Chen to propose tangible policies to address four key issues: a slowing economy, low wages, the Labor Insurance System’s deficit and energy problems.

It would not matter how the Chen Cabinet styles itself if it could not resolve these issues, which affect everyone in the country, KMT caucus convener William Tseng (曾銘宗) said.

Chen’s Cabinet should have policies addressing a worsening economic situation, with GDP forecast to grow only 2.28 percent and the unemployment rate projected to reach 3.79 percent this year, he said.

KMT Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) said that as the head of pension reforms in 2017, Chen had suggested that the annual increase in the labor insurance premium be capped at 0.5 percent from 2018 to this year, when the Labor Insurance Fund and the Labor Pension Fund are to be merged.

Chen also suggested at the time that if by this year, the government did not come up with a better plan, the annual premium should be increased by 1 percent, Fai said, adding that he would ask Chen about his plans for the insurance system as his previous statements were already six years old.

KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Hsieh Yi-feng (謝衣鳳) said that despite President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) promise in 2017 that the government would address the issue of low wages among young workers, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics figures showed that 59 percent of the nation’s 9.14 million workers earned less than NT$40,000 per month last year.

KMT caucus secretary-general Lee Te-wei (李德維) said that he would ask Chen, who supports abolishing nuclear power, about the government’s energy policy, especially as the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant’s second reactor is to be shut down in March, while the Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant’s first reactor is to be retired next year.

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