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Wed, Jul 04, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Fund head dismisses impropriety charges

RISING ABOVEThe secretary general of the foreign ministry's aid division said he used the resources provided as efficiently as possible and denied the fund violated any ministry policies

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Outgoing Secretary General of the International Cooperation and Development Fund Loh Ping-cheung, left, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Hung-mao, right, attend the ICDF's five-year anniversary celebration yesterday. Due to a longstanding disagreement between the two, the meeting was tense.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Outgoing Secretary General of the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) Loh Ping-cheung (羅平章), yesterday denied that the fund, the foreign aid arm of the foreign ministry, violated the ministry's policies regarding aid distribution.

"I can assure you that the way the institutions are structured, it's impossible for the fund to do anything that violates the foreign ministry's policy," Loh said.

Loh made the remarks in an address at the organization's five-year anniversary celebration, which was viewed by some as Loh's farewell speech.

Quieting Speculation

Loh resigned on June 19 amid speculation the move was trig-gered by his longstanding disagreement with the ministry over the evaluation and implementation of foreign aid and development projects.

Loh, who worked for the World Bank from 1964 to 1996, said that he believes that he has "left some legacies" which he said can serve as "paradigms" for the organization.

In an apparent move to dismiss charges made by foreign ministry officials that the fund under Loh ignored Taiwan's foreign policy considerations, Loh said the ICDF consulted overseas offices regarding aid projects.

"The fund has carried out the three-year foreign assistance rolling core program which requires the foreign ministry to have three-years notice before a project is implemented.

"Taiwan's embassies and overseas representative offices offer their input on every project [under the ICDF]," Loh said.

`No way' was there a violation

"Any of the fund's activities that are outside the rolling core program and that require financial support require approval from the foreign ministry.

"This is a system that I've established and there is no way that I would violate such an operation," Loh told reporters after the ceremony.

Loh said Taiwan's development in areas such as agricultural transformation and small-and-medium enterprises have become yardsticks for the fund's foreign aid programs.

The fund also tried to use its limited resources as efficiently as possible when carrying out foreign aid projects, Loh said.

A `great loss'

Some staffers at the fund regretted Loh's resignation, saying his absence from the five-year-old organization is a "great loss" for the institution.

Ko Yu-chin (葛雨琴), general secretary of the Chinese Relief Association, described the 65-year-old as "a man of principle," saying he dared to "say `no' to whomever he considered in the wrong regardless of that person's status."

When asked by the Taipei Times to respond to the allegations against him, Loh said: "I am not at the same level as those who have a problem with me. I am above that."

Macedonia link?

The immediate cause of Loh's resignation, some media have claimed, is related to the handling of shaky Taiwan-Macedonia ties in early June.

Loh had reportedly proposed offering Macedonia a so-called "peace fund" to help reconstruct the crisis-torn Balkan state as a last-ditch effort to maintain ties with the country.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Katharine Chang (張小月), however, immediately denied the proposal was related to Macedonia, saying the idea was still in its infancy and was "purely a product of some people within the fund."

Loh will go on leave this Friday until his resignation is formally approved by the fund's board of directors at a meeting scheduled for July 25, sources said.

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