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Taiwan's finance minister resigns amid controversy
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's premier accepted the resignation of Finance Minister Lee Yung-san amid controversy over government efforts to reform the island's debt-laden credit unions, the Cabinet said today.
When Lee tendered his resignation last week, he told reporters that health reasons were behind his decision.
But he added that his ministry should take responsibility for the misunderstanding created by efforts to reform the credit unions, which lend money to farmers and fishermen.
Lee was the third finance minister to leave President Chen Shui-bian's 2-year-old administration.
Vice Finance Minister Sam Wang will be acting finance minister until the Cabinet names a successor, the Ministry of Finance said today.
Premier Yu Shyi-kun, who as Taiwan's No. 3 leader heads the Cabinet, also accepted the resignation of Fan Cheng-chung, chairman of the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture.
Last Friday, the Cabinet said Yu also offered to resign. But by Sunday, Yu agreed to stay at the president's request.
The resignations of Lee and Fan follow a Saturday protest march in Taipei by about 100,000 farmers and fishermen upset over government reform of the credit divisions of agricultural associations. Farmers and fishermen fear the reforms will lead to the eradication of the associations.
Those financial institutions have the highest nonperforming loan ratios in the financial sector. The administration has said problem loans from the cooperatives, which the government is responsible for, cost taxpayers nearly $1 million a day.
The government has said its reforms were misunderstood and suspended the 3-month-old effort last week in hope of pacifying these constituents.