Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Salaries for village heads urged

TALKING MONEY Independent lawmakers suggested that borough wardens and village heads should receive a salary, as well as the benefits that other public office-holders enjoy

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Independent lawmakers yesterday proposed changing the offices of village heads and borough chiefs from being unpaid jobs to paid ones. The alliance proposed changing the law to give them the same benefits as national public officials.

If the new proposal is passed by the Legislative Yuan, it is estimated that it would cost about NT$7 billion per year to pay elected borough wardens and village heads.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday expressed its opposition to the proposal and the Ministry of the Interior said it needs further discussion with other ministries.

Inviting the Ministries of the Interior, Finance and Civil Service, as well as hundreds of borough wardens and village heads to discuss the proposal in the Legislative Yuan, the independent lawmakers suggested revising article 61 of the Law on Local Government Systems (地方制度法) to change the offices of the borough wardens and village heads from being unpaid offices to paid ones. This will enable local chiefs to get a monthly salary of about NT$50,000, as well as added benefits that other public office holders enjoy, like health insurance, a year-end bonus and pension contributions.

Currently the borough wardens and village heads receive a monthly allowance of NT$45,000 from the district office to pay for stationery, postal costs and electricity and water bills. If the new proposal is passed by the legislature, borough wardens and village heads could receive NT$100,000 per month.

Borough wardens play the role of frontline service-providers. They are involved in local matters including garbage collection, road repair, the installation of street lights and traffic signals and the issuing of various certificates. This combination of roles makes the borough wardens key figures in city and national elections.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior, there are 7,809 borough wardens and village heads in 309 townships.

In his reaction to the proposal, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the duty range and the name of the borough wardens should be clarified first.

"The borough wardens are burdened by a heavy workload. As far as I know, some of them even have to pay out of their own pockets to serve their electorate," Ma said.

"Some use their own home as an office. Some even gave up their original jobs to serve as full-time borough wardens," Ma said.

"But they are neither national public officials nor lawmakers. We do not know what their status really is," Ma said.

He said there are 449 borough wardens in Taipei City, and it would cost NT$27 million if the office of borough warden becomes a paid job. The city has not budgeted for this, Ma said.

Commenting on the indepen-dent lawmakers' proposal, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that the Executive Yuan will respect the legislature's decision.

"Our stance is clear: We will obey the current law until any changes are made," Lin said.

"We're also calling on the legislature to consider whether making neighborhood chiefs political functionaries and putting them on government payrolls would also apply to borough and village wardens," Lin said.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling(Staff reporter)

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