Wed, Jul 09, 2014 - Page 1 News List

New Taipei City to issue bills to defuse debt crisis

By Lai Hsia-tung and Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) , in an effort to defuse the municipality’s mounting financial crisis, announced that the New Taipei City Government plans to issue NT$10 billion (US$33.3 million), one-year bills, which will be available to the public next month at the earliest.

During a New Taipei City Council meeting yesterday, Chu criticized the legislature for failing to amend the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法), which he said has left the municipality deep in debt due to a deficit of more than NT$80 billion since New Taipei City was upgraded from county status in 2010.

In a bid to relieve its financial burden, the New Taipei City Government has gained approval from the Financial Supervisory Commission to issue bills with a term tentatively set at a year.

The local government is considering selling the bills on the open market. It plans to first conduct an evaluation of interest rates, it said.

Chu said that the issuance of the bills would serve as an alternative to inviting tenders to carry out government projects to raise funds under a shorter time frame, as the municipal government wishes to avoid making unnecessary investments.

The bills, modeled on the central government’s Treasury bills, would be the first of their kinds in the nation, New Taipei City Department of Finance Director-General Lu Wei-ching (呂衛青) said, adding that the project has passed an initial evaluation by the Financial Supervisory Commission and that the local government is deliberating whether the bills adhere to the Act Governing Bills Finance Business (票券金融管理法).

“As long as such a project does not violate any existing regulations, we welcome all municipalities to follow suit,” the Ministry of Finance said yesterday when asked about the plan to issue the bills.

Four years since being upgraded to a special municipality, New Taipei City posts an annual deficit that averages more than NT$20 billion a year.

The legislature has failed to pass an amendment to the law governing the amount of funds New Taipei City receives from the central government and the amount it is allocated has remained at the same level as when it was Taipei county, leaving the local government mired in debt.

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