Thu, May 15, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Governments in central areas say they lack money

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER IN TAICHUNG

A lack of funds and medical supplies is the main problem for local authorities in central Taiwan trying to control the spread of SARS, local government leaders said yesterday.

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) called on the central government to allocate funds to local governments as soon as possible through a NT$50 billion special budget to combat SARS which is scheduled to be voted on in the legislature tomorrow.

"Each local government in central Taiwan needs around NT$100 million. Even if all the local governments of the country make the request at the same time, the overall spending is only NT$2 billion," Hu said.

Hu made the remarks yesterday at a joint meeting of the leaders of local governments in central Taiwan that was called by the Executive Yuan.

Almost all local government leaders at the meeting complained that they did not have enough money and medical supplies.

Taichung County Commissioner Huang Chun-sheng (黃仲生) estimated that his government would need at least NT$310 million to effectively check the spread of the disease.

A central government official said at the meeting that such a large amount of money was not available but that between NT$3 million and NT$5 million could be given to each local government quite quickly.

While the government has little money to give to the local authorities, the reserve funds and a disaster relief fund could be used for emergencies, the official said.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun urged local governments to reallocate money from their own budgets for the moment, saying subsidies from the central government would be allocated on a case-by-case basis.

Besides the lack of money, the local government leaders complained that they did not have enough medical supplies to handle a large-scale outbreak of SARS.

Changhua County Commissioner Weng Chin-chu (翁金珠) said that although the central government claimed to have distributed a large number of masks to local governments, his county has not received any.

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