The third way these fat rats are gnawing away at the state coffers is through corruption.
First, we had allegations of former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) accepting bribes. Then, there were the corruption scandals involving senior civil servants, former or current, working in the Water Resources Agency, the National Fire Administration and the Criminal Investigation Bureau. Next, news broke of several presidents of Department of Health-run hospitals receiving kickbacks and of a scandal involving a high-school head and school dinners.
Finally, the Taiwan Railways Administration deputy director-general was allegedly caught with his trousers down spending taxpayers’ money on entertaining in places of dubious repute and accepting bribes, in addition to his involvement in corruption in the railways’ NT$15 billion “Round Taiwan Safety Enhancement Project.”
All of these shenanigans have cost the state coffers dearly.
These, together with the losses accrued by CPC Corp, Taiwan, and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), have made the coffers bleed to the tune of several hundred billion NT dollars.
There is also a fourth way in which these coffer robbers are plundering the treasury, even after they cease to be civil servants. After their retirement, many senior officials, guilty of either corruption or negligence during their working lives, are taking up positions in state-owned banks, enterprises and foundations, effectively receiving a second salary from the taxpayer.
In addition, the year-end and compensatory bonuses paid to retired public servants — military personnel, public school teachers and civil servants — and the 18 percent or 13 percent preferential interest rate on savings they are eligible for, are also draining the national coffers to the tune of billions of NT dollars every year, contributing to serious financial problems in the future.
The central function of the government is to keep the population safe and secure, and to make sure all of their needs are provided for. However, the government seems to have become a hub of spin, advertising and outsourcing, and it is losing its ability to do its job effectively.
One hopes that a certain self-styled reformer, looking for a historical legacy, will do something over the coming year to instigate a thorough pest-control program in government, and rid it of these fat rats.
Lin Terng-yaw is a retired law professor at Tunghai University.
Translated by Paul Cooper