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Tue, Feb 13, 2001 - Page 4 News List

First foreign aid bill to be debated before month's end

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan is expected to complete a review of the draft of Taiwan's first foreign aid bill by the end of this month, paving the way for improved accountability and transparency of the nation's foreign aid programs, officials said yesterday.

"By the end of February, the Executive Yuan is expected to complete a review of the draft and to send it to the Legislative Yuan during the legislature's new session," said Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), chairman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Research and Planning Board.

Lo described the draft as "the grand framework" for Taiwan's various foreign aid programs, adding that the purpose of the bill, if passed by the legislature, is to "enhance the accountability, transparency and responsibility" of Taiwan's foreign aid initiatives.

"The draft is to ensure that every penny of our taxpayers' money will be spent in the right place," Lo said.

Taiwan has a long history of offering aid to its allies as well as other countries seen as friendly to Taiwan, but some have criticized the way the government carried out these programs, as being "confidential" and lacking in transparency. The bill should correct problems that are evident in some current practices to do with carrying out foreign aid programs, officials said.

The Executive Yuan held the first cross-ministerial meeting to review the draft presented by the foreign ministry last Monday, but only half of the 15-article draft was discussed.

Some officials from other ministries who were involved in various international cooperation programs said that the draft should clarify the division of labor among various related ministries so as to avoid repetition of resources allocated in similar programs, a source at the Government Information Office said.

The foreign ministry had been asked to amend some parts of the draft in accordance with the conclusions reached at the meeting, the source added.

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