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Thu, Aug 23, 2001 - Page 3 News List

War of words over tax fund continues

FAIR SHARE Taipei City officials called on Kaohsiung City to tone down the vitriol over sharing tax money from the central government's tax redistribution fund

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City called on its Kaohsiung counterpart yesterday to stop politicizing tax redistribution fund disbursements after a Kaohsiung City official harshly criticized Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Director of Kaohsiung City's Bureau of Finance Lin Hsiang-kai (林向愷), criticized Ma on Tuesday as "being apathetic to the financial woes of other local governments" and "not being able to garner electoral support beyond the Tamsui River."

Lin also claimed that Ma has been citing incorrect statistics regarding the fund.

Ma said on Tuesday that Taipei City received none of the NT$236 billion supplementary fund this year, while Kaohsiung City received NT$8.9 billion, or 4 percent of the total.

Lin, however, said that Taipei received NT$12.4 billion of the supplementary fund, while Kaohsiung received only NT$8.2 billion.

Speaking on behalf of Ma at a press conference held at Taipei City Hall yesterday morning, city spokesperson Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) blasted Lin for what he saw as Kaohsiung's politicizing the debate over the issue.

"We don't see Lin's irrational and vitriolic remarks against Ma as doing any good to solve the complicated financial issue," Wu said. "It's impossible to change overnight the disparity and equality between the north and south. It would only result in a losing situation for Taipei, Kaohsiung, and the central government."

Lee Sush-der (李述德), director of Taipei City's finance bureau, said that, although the issue has been debated since the central government changed the provincial and municipal business taxes to national taxes in 1999, there remains only one truth.

"The truth is that Taipei City has been very cooperative in terms of paying taxes and helpful in terms of alleviating other local governments' financial woes," he said. "Although the city's population accounts for 12 percent of the state's entire population, about 40 percent of the state's tax income comes from Taipei."

Lee said it is a myth that Taipei is in an affluent state.

"Although we seem to have more income than other localities, we also spend more," he said. "Take this year for example, while our annual income was recorded at NT$143 billion, our annual expenses reached NT$155 billion. By contrast, Kaohsiung's annual income was registered at NT$60 billion, its annual expenses were recorded at NT$65 billion."

In addition, Taipei has accumulated debts of NT$148 billion, up NT$15 billion from last year, he said.

A win-win solution, Lee said, would be to "make a bigger pie" for everyone.

"Don't you think it would make everyone's lives a lot easier to look at the big picture?" he said.

This year, the city gets only 12 percent of the tax redistribution and supplementary funds combined, while Kaohsiung acquires 7 percent and other localities receive 81 percent.

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