Southbound office to trim budget

PAPERWORK::Southbound office personnel spent the first half of the year planning policies, which is why its efficiency was low, the Presidential Office spokesman said

By Chung Li-hua  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Oct 23, 2017 - Page 1

The New Southbound Policy Office’s budget is to be reduced from this year’s NT$1.95 million to NT$740,000 (US$64,482 to US$24,470) next year, due to a personnel reshuffle and mission adjustment, Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said yesterday in response to a news report about the office’s supposedly low efficiency.

The office acts as an advisory body to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in promoting the nation’s commerce and interactions with the 10 nations of ASEAN, as well as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, New Zealand and Australia.

About NT$4.4 billion has been distributed this year to different government agencies for the implementation of the New Southbound Policy, which is a key focus of Tsai’s administration.

However, only 56.3 percent of the policy had been carried out as of July, with the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan’s Public Construction Commission having the lowest efficiency rates, according to a story in yesterday’s Chinese-language United Daily News.

The policy office’s performance in the first seven months does not reflect its overall efficiency, given that some projects are still under way, Lin said in a news release.

The policy office’s members were working mainly on policy planning during the first half of this year, which is why its efficiency seemed low, he said.

Its budget of NT$1.95 million this year is being used mainly to pay for overseas inspection trips and official meetings, he said.

However, the need for overseas inspections has diminished since former policy office director James Huang (黃志芳) became the chairman of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council in January and was succeeded by National Security Council advisory member Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成), he said.

The policy office also underwent a mission adjustment after the establishment of the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations in September last year, as the latter shares the duty to promote southbound efforts, he said.

The policy office will return unspent funds to the treasury, and the Presidential Office has reduced the policy office’s budget for next year based on an evaluation of its achievements this year, Lin said.

However, the overall budget for the southbound efforts is to rise next year to NT$7.19 billion, an increase of NT$2.74 billion from this year, a report published last month by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said.

Among the disbursements, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is to receive NT$2.88 billion for such tasks as helping domestic businesses access overseas markets and apply for public construction projects, while the Ministry of Education is to be given NT$1.7 billion for promoting academic and student exchanges, the report showed.

Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan