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Wed, Dec 29, 1999 - Page 2 News List

Quake group proposes new legislation to help monitor charitable donations

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Charitable fundraising may be more closely monitored after the National Alliance for Post-earthquake Reconstruction (全盟) yesterday proposed a draft Donation Management Law to the legislature.

The proposal, according to the alliance, will not only prevent deceit among supposed charities but also foster the development of non-profit organizations.

"We hope to have the draft passed by the end of this legislative session, which is Jan. 15," said Chen Wen-liang (陳文良)," a member of the alliance.

The existing framework is covered by the Unified Donation Campaign Regulation (統一募捐運動辦法), which was put into effect in 1942 and amended in 1953.

The alliance said the regulation was briefly stated and lacked legal binding force.

Legislators of different parties had sent their versions of donation laws to the floor, including the KMT's Chiang Chih-wen (江綺雯), independent Chu Hui-liang (朱惠良), and the DPP's Yen-Chin-fu (顏錦福).

The alliance is seeking integration of these versions during a period of legislative negotiation.

The National Alliance for Post-earthquake Reconstruction -- established ten days after the earthquake -- comprises 60 social welfare groups.

Primary goals for the alliance are monitoring the operation of civilian resources mobilized through disaster relief activities and checking government reconstruction works.

According to data from the Ministry of Interior, NT$20 billion in donations has been raised for the 921 earthquake relief and reconstruction fund, of which half went to the Cabinet-sponsored Disaster Reconstruction Foundation (震災重建基金會) and the other half went to civilian groups.

But not every group has made clear how much money it has received and how it is spending the money, said the alliance.

According to the alliance's donation-monitoring committee, there are over 200 civilian fund-raising groups helping earthquake victims.

The alliance contacted a total of 165 of these groups. Fifty-nine out of the 165 were under credit inspection by the alliance; 20 had hired accountants auditing their own accounts; 58 had transferred their funds to other donation accounts. Another nine groups were involved with social welfare programs.

But there were 19 groups remaining that could not be contacted by the alliance.

Most groups did not specify targets for their fund-raising campaigns.

Additionally, records of donations were not available to the public for inspection, said Chen Wen-liang, who is also executive secretary of the United Way of Taiwan -- which collects for various social welfare groups and distributes the funds as necessary.

"A lot of Taiwanese have traditional Buddhist thoughts on benefaction, so they do not care where the money goes," he said.

The draft law proposes that any public donation campaign for social welfare should state the recipient welfare group, ensuring donors' rights.

It would also enable the public to compare the interests and effectiveness of charitable organizations and provide an informed choice to potential benefactors, Chen said.

Every non-profit group's annual projects, budgets and financial reports should be open to the public, according to the bill.

"This is a policy applied in Japan, the US and many European countries," he said.

The alliance's bill also proposes that donations to civilian groups for emergency or disaster relief should benefit the donor through the provision of tax reduction incentives.

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