The Ministry of the Interior yesterday decided to reduce the benefits provided to former presidents and vice presidents, which have recently been attacked by opposition lawmakers as wasteful.
The decision was made at a ministerial meeting coordinated by the interior ministry to discuss the benefits of former heads of state and their deputies.
"The meeting was held in accordance with the Legislative Yuan's resolution last week which requested the government reduce related budgets," said deputy interior minister Lee Yi-yang (
"The official vehicles for former presidents will be reduced from nine cars to six," said an official from the ministry, "and the number of security guards will also be cut from 22 to 16."
The official said that in the future retired heads of state would need to pay for their own board and lodging when they go abroad for medical treatment. The rent for their residence and office must not exceed the monthly quota for their lifelong payments.
According to documents from the Presidential Office, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) draws NT$410,000 per month, which the government must give him for the rest of his life. But the rental for Lee's office at the Taiwan Research Institute is NT$700,000 per month. Moreover, spending on renovations of his Taipei residence, as well as for its furniture and facilities amounted to NT$1.4 million.
The rules for the "Regulations for Welfare Treatment of former Presidents" currently apply only to Lee, the nation's only surviving former president.
The government revised the regulations to ensure that former vice presidents also receive benefits.
New Party lawmaker Elmer Feng (馮滬祥) held a press conference on Tuesday at which he said Lee has spent over NT$130 million in the past two years and currently has 34 security guards. Feng said the money he received from the government was a waste, especially during an economic downturn.
Feng and other opposition lawmakers have vowed to strictly scrutinize the budget, which the government arranged for Lee for next year.
Yu Shyi-kun, secretary-general to the president, responded that all budgets were legislated in accordance with regulations passed by the Legislative Yuan. The Department of Public Affairs also issued a news release on Tuesday saying that the government would consider the opinions of the public before revising regulations.
"We are listening to all ideas and suggestions from many circles to properly adjust the details, which will clearly limit the budget," Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) said.
After yesterday's Interior Ministry meeting, the Presidential Office, which is in charge of listing the former president's budget, will reduce the range. The budget must still be discussed by lawmakers in the next session, which will be formally launched on Sept. 18.