Ho Chih-chin Becomes New Minister of Finance

Jun 30, 2006 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Furniture Ι By Philip, CENS
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Taipei, June 30, 2006 (CENS)--Following the conclusion of the contentious negotiations over the management of Mega Financial Holding, Premier Su Tseng-chang approved the resignation of Joseph Lyu, minister of finance, on June 29 and appointed Ho Chih-chin, chairman of the department of economics at National Taiwan University to succeed in the position.

Meanwhile, Lu Daung-Yen, vice chairman of Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), will continue to serve in the capacity as acting chairman of the commission until August 12. The Executive Yuan, though, appointed three new commissioners to the commission to fill the vacated positions. They are Shih Chun-chi, chief executive of the institutional research center of Academia Sinica; Lin Kuo-chuan, professor of Law at National Chengchi University; and Chang Shih-chieh, professor at the Risk Management and Insurance Department of National Chengchi University. The new commissioners will assume their offices on July 1 for a four-year term.

At a press conference on June 29, Cheng Wen-tsan, spokesman of the Executive Yuan, reported that the Premier Su had reported the personnel reshuffle to President Chen Shui-bian, who will promulgate the appointments soon.

Outgoing Joseph Lyu will become minister without portfolio, while Hu Sheng-cheng will relinquish his position as minister without portfolio and dedicate his time to his position as chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

Cheng Wen-tsan refused to respond to the question of whether Joseph Lyu was forced to leave his post due to his controversial handling of the recent election of the board of directors and supervisors of Mega Financial Holding, emphasizing instead that Lyu resigned on his own due to the “completion of his mission at the current stage,” and noting that Premier Su tried to persuade him to stay, in vain.

The appointment of Ho Chih-chin surprised many market insiders, since it runs counter to Premier Su's style shunning scholars due to their perceived lack of the capability for execution. Ho Chih-chin, 54, is chairman of the Department of Economics and director of the Graduate School of Economics at National Taiwan University and a holder of a doctorate degree in economics from the University of Michigan.

After his graduation from the University of Michigan, he served as the chief economist of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the Department of Treasury in the U.S. During his stay in the U.S., he took part in the tax reform program of the former President Clinton's administration and joined the Brookings Institution, a leading U.S. think tank, focusing on the study of the reform of inheritance and gift taxes.

After his return to Taiwan in 2003, under the recommendation of former finance minister Yen Chin-chang, he joined the domestic financial reform committee. He was a key advisor to former finance minister Lin Chuan for his tax reform program. He proposes to cut the highest marginal rate for inheritance and gift taxes from the existing 50% to 40%, and to consolidate the two taxes.
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