Sat, Jul 05, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Ministry raises treasure hunting deposit

CNA , TAIPEI

The Ministry of Finance has decided to raise the amount of guarantee (deposit) money for hunting buried treasures from NT$200,000 to NT$1 million, government sources said yesterday.

According to the sources, the ministry has finalized a package of revisions to the existing regulations governing excavation of buried treasures, which will be implemented in the near future with the consent of the Cabinet.

Under the revised regulations, the amount of guaranty money will be raised from NT$200,000 to 10 percent of the value of the treasures to be excavated or at least NT$1 million.

The increase in the amount of guaranty is needed because the excavation sites are usually located at historical or cultural relics or sightseeing spots, an official with the ministry's National Property Bureau bureau said.

In the past, the official said, some treasure hunters failed to fill in the sites after excavation.

"In those cases, the bureau had to finance rehabilitation projects with money from its own pockets," the official said.

The hike is also aimed at pushing prospective treasure hunters to think twice before deciding to launch an excavation, the official said.

Regulations require those who intend to prospect for buried valuables to first file applications with the bureau. In addition to depositing a NT$200,000 guaranty, the applicants must hand over 60 percent of the value of the unearthed treasures to the government.

Over the past five decades, the bureau has received 77 applications for hunting buried treasures.

"The bureau has so far approved 50 cases, but none of them have ever hit the jackpot, " the official said. "Treasure hunters have never discovered gold, jewelry or any other valuables. What they have unearthed has been gun parts or shabby cloth left behind by Japanese troops during World War II."

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