Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet wants new health agency

RESTRUCTURING Officials said setting up a medical development bureau would not conflict with the Executive Yuan's efforts to streamline the central government

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet is considering establishing a brand new agency to manage public hospitals and regional clinics, despite its efforts to downsize the government.

"It [the new agency] would be similar to Hong Kong's Hospital Authority, which is an independent organization that manages all public hospitals in Hong Kong and is accountable to the government through the secretary for health and welfare, who is responsible for the formulation of health policies and monitoring the performance of the authority," said a Cabinet official who asked not to be named.

According to the official, the proposed medical development bureau would be established as an independent entity and incorporate the 157 employees of the Taichung office of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health's (DOH) Medical Affairs Division.

The Cabinet is also mulling giving more leeway in the employment of medical experts and academics to serve as civil servants at the CDC, DOH and Bureau of Health Promotion.

In addition, the Bureau of Health Promotion might get two new divisions to take charge of smoking prevention and medical education, international cooperation and English environment, although the total number of staffers would remain the same.

Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) said the proposals are not at odds with the Cabinet's restructuring project because it is necessary to set up new organs while abolishing old ones.

"Our theory is simple -- downsize existing agencies that are deemed insufficient or obsolete and then add new ones to improve government efficiency," Yeh said. "While several government-restructuring related draft amendments and bills have been bogged down in the legislative process, we cannot shut our eyes to the emerging and urgent need of government agencies and to respond to it."

"It's an erroneous accusation that we're going against the restructuring plan because the so-called `independent entity' or `public corporations' doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of the Cabinet," he said.

Yeh is executive director of the Cabinet's government restructuring committee.

In April last year the Cabinet sent to the legislature draft amendments to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) which would downsize the Cabinet from 35 administrative entities to 23, plus four independent institutions.

A separate draft bill, the proposed law on the total number of civil servants (總員額法), would set the ceiling for central government bureaucrats at 200,500.

Another draft bill, the standard law of government organization (機關組織基準法), would provide a legal basis for the central government to establish independent institutions and related subdivisions.

Meanwhile, the restructuring committee, which met yesterday under the leadership of Premier Yu Shyi-kun, approved turning the Bureau of Labor Insurance and Bureau of National Health Insurance into public corporations.

While there is no timetable for the transformation project, Yu requested the two agencies closely work with the Cabinet's task force to map out the second-generation national health insurance system.

The committee decided to push for the restructuring of six agencies, including turning the National Agriculture Research Institute into a public corporation, contracting out the management of the Chihlan and Mingchi Forest Recreational Area, and incorporating the Science and Technology Information Center and the Precision Instrument Development Center within the National Applied Research Laboratories.

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