Thu, Jul 30, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet admits mistake in handling funds

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Acknowledging problems with the government's disbursement of public funds, Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said yesterday that the Cabinet would work to improve the system.

Su made the comments in response to the publication of the Ministry of Audit's Audit Report 2008 on Tuesday, which identified several flaws in government spending.

The report said the Ministry of the Interior, the Central Personnel Administration and the Veteran Affairs Commission mistakenly distributed pensions to unqualified people last year, resulting in a loss of about NT$100 million (US$3 million).

It said that a total of NT$80 million, earmarked for senior citizens' allowances and subsidies for disabled people, went to about 3,000 people who did not qualify for the stipends. In addition, approximately NT$19 million was given to 90 public servants who were no longer qualified because of career change, they were dead, or other reasons.

Su said the problem had existed for years.

“In 2002 a total of NT$660 million in funds were overpaid. The government has been working hard to reclaim wrongly paid pensions over the years, but there is still NT$90 million that is irrecoverable,” Su said.

The report also questioned the effectiveness of incentives to boost the economy, including the distribution of NT$3,600 consumer vouchers to each eligible resident, a series of tax reduction measures and the opening of the country to Chinese tourists.

It said that the amount lost in tax revenues following a series of tax cuts adopted by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government since it regained power in May last year had reached NT$13.3 billion as of the end of last year.

Su, however, said that the consumer voucher policy had been praised by many foreign news outlets as an effective and creative measure to boost consumer confidence.

He added that the government had introduced the tax cuts and voucher program to “promptly” help disadvantaged families hit hard by the financial crisis.

“To quickly assist people in need of help, we did not have a lot of time to assess the policies before they were put into effect,” Su said.

“We will conduct a self-examination hereafter to ensure that future policies will be as comprehensive as possible,” Su said.

KMT caucus secretary-general Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) urged the government to learn from the ministry's report and improve its performance.

But Yang said it was too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the consumer voucher program.

KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) shrugged off the ministry's criticism of the voucher program, saying people he had spoken to had reacted positively to the scheme.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG

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