Thu, Oct 13, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Pan-green city councilors slam Ma for Taipei's debt

BY MO YAN-CHIH  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Government's accrued debt will reach NT$240 billion (US$7.21 billion) next year, and on average, each taxpayer will have to shoulder a burden of NT$93,000 to cover the city's debts, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus in the Taipei City Council said yesterday.

"The 2006 annual budget disposition report shows that the Ma team wasted residents' money on many limited-utility construction projects, such as convention centers and pedestrian bridges," said Councilor Chen Cheng-teh (陳正德), the DPP caucus whip, during a press conference criticizing the budget.

According to Chen, since Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office, the city's debt has increased from NT$103 billion to NT$240 billion. The capital account in the annual budget has also been reduced over the years to 14.85 percent next year.

"The decreasing capital account shows that Mayor Ma has been ignoring municipal construction," he said.

DPP Councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) echoed Chen's comments, and questioned the city government raising its personnel costs every year, despite its plan to reduce its staff.

During the 2006 Taipei City general budget review meeting yesterday afternoon, DPP city councilors continued their attack on the budget.

DPP Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) accused Ma of being "insensitive to numbers."

"Looking at the budget report, I have to say that you are insensitive to numbers, and you should really know how much debt the city government will carry until you finish your term next year and stop wasting money on building district community centers, which few people use," she told Ma.

Ma blasted the criticism, saying that the DPP caucus' version of the city government's debt was "calculated mistakenly by someone who doesn't understand budgets."

"The NT$240 billion is the budgeted debt. The actual debt is NT$170 billion, and the average debt for each citizen is about NT$60,000," Ma said yesterday afternoon, during a question-and-answer session in the city council.

Compared to Kaohsiung City, in which each resident shoulders NT$70,000 in local government debt, or in the central government, in which each citizen carries a NT$100,000 debt, Ma said the debt Taipei residents carry is much less.

Ma also denied that the city government cut down the capital account in the budget. If taken with the special budget for MRT construction projects, the total capital account would make up 35 percent of the total budget, he said.

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