Casino decision due in six months: CEPD Chief

Taipei (CNA) – The government will come up within six months with a decision on whether to allow the opening of casinos, Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Chairwoman Ho Mei-yueh said Tuesday.

Ho made the remarks while fielding questions at the Legislative Yuan from main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Chao Erh-chung, who complained about a rumor that the central government has set its sights on one of four cities and counties that include Taichung and Yunlin counties in central Taiwan, as a possible location for a casino.

Chao argued that such a decision, if true, will deal a heavy blow to several offshore counties long hoping to vie for the opportunity to bolster their economic development, such as Kinmen and the Penghu islands.

Firmly denying the rumor that the CEPD has targeted any particular city or county, Ho said the council is still working on the project and is slated to come up with a comprehensive evaluation report within six months.

The key point for the CEPD in evaluating the contentious issue, Ho said, is that the establishment of casinos, no matter whether on Taiwan proper or the outlying islands, must create greater added value to the development of the local economies.

Speaking on the same occasion, Premier Su Tseng-chang said the central government has always given equal attention to development in different regions, including the outlying islands.

For instance, he said, the Kinmen and Matsu islands have opened direct shipping services with two ports in China’s Fujian Province, injecting significant momentum to local economic development.