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Thu, May 25, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Old political rivals meet to discuss city initiatives

FUNDS Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou has asked Chen Shui-bian for his help in maintaining present funding levels and improving the city's infrastructure

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) met yesterday with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for the first time since the election to brief the new president about major municipal issues and to appeal for the government's support on many of its initiatives.

Ma was one of four local government officials received by Chen yesterday. The other three were Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Taiwan Provincial Governor Chang Po-ya (張博雅), and Fuchien Provincial Governor Yen Chung-cheng (顏忠誠).

Ma, who defeated Chen in the 1998 mayoral election, said that although little was discussed during the one-hour meeting, it was a pleasant gathering and Chen showed much sincerity and friendliness.

In the hour-long meeting, Ma asked for central government support for giving Taipei the original 47 percent allocation quota of the Overall Planning Fund (統籌分配款).

Taipei City's allocation includes money for the construction of the Taipei Sports Dome (巨蛋體育場), the budget finalization of the MRT Sungshan-Hsinyi line, the extension of the Nankang line, the city's new garbage collection initiative, and the connection of city to county sewage treatment systems.

The annual fund, which amounts to NT$250 billion this year, was originally designed for emergency use and local development and falls under the direct control of chief executives at each level of government.

It recently became the focus of heated debate when slush fund accusations surfaced during the presidential election.

Officials said the fund will be allocated to local governments on a set quota until the end of this year. According to the quota, special municipalities -- Taipei and Kaohsiung cities -- will get 47 percent, while counties and townships will get 12 percent. Of the 47 percent, Taipei will get 74 percent and Kaohsiung 26.

However, the Ministry of Finance has proposed new allocation quotas to scale down the 47 percent to 41 percent due to financial difficulties within the central government.

Ma also called for the central government's support in the construction of the Taipei Sports Dome in a bid to win the right to host the East Asia Games in 2009.

The city's long-planned but much-delayed domed stadium project received a spark of revival when Ma announced in May 1998 that the Cabinet had tentatively agreed to provide the vacant Sungshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠), a property of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau (台灣煙酒公賣局), as the site for the ambitious project.

But construction of the 25,000-seated stadium will not begin for at least two years because of the time required for preparatory work such as land acquisition and land use rezoning of the area.

As for the city's new garbage collection program, which is slated to officially go into effect July 1, Ma said Chen has promised the full support of the central government.

Under the new program, charges for domestic waste will be based on the volume of trash individual households generate, as opposed to the current system which bases fees on water consumption.

Finally, Ma appealed to Chen to integrate the sewage treatment systems of Taipei City, Keelung City and Taipei County.

Taipei City has the highest level of integrated sewage systems for domestic waste water -- registered at 46 percent -- achieved while Chen was mayor. However, sewerage treatment levels in rural counties are incredibly low, making it impossible to effectively clean up polluted rivers.

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