Wed, Oct 18, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Feature: Shih campaign's expense record questioned

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Facing mounting criticism over its use of millions of dollars in donations, the campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) publicized its expenditures last Friday -- the first time it has done so since the movement began.

Since former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) initiated the campaign in early August and received donations totaling NT$111 million (US$3.36 million), a total of NT$41.7 million has been spent as of Oct. 2, with NT$62.62 million left in the account, according to Lu Tai-nien (呂台年), a deputy coordinator of the campaign.

A closer look at the expense list revealed that advertising and promotional materials, including balloons, banners and stickers, accounted for the largest share of expenditure (NT$21.47 million).

This was followed by big-ticket items such as stage and location fees (NT$13.15 million), deposits for the use of public places (NT$390,000), and workers' salaries (NT$406,000).

Lu dismissed criticism that the campaign has not been transparent about its finances, saying it balanced its account every week.

"Our financial record is very transparent. We are not afraid to provide detailed information and allow the public to check [our finances]," Lu told a press conference last Friday, adding that it would make public a more detailed financial record in the near future.

While Lu maintained that its financial records were transparent, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Spokesman Meng Yi-chao (孟義超) lashed out at the campaign for providing "questionable" records by failing to present receipts and detailed items.

receipts

"Where are the receipts of the `allowance?' How many people are paid `salaries'? And how much did each receive? The `moving fee' and `transportation' fee are even more confusing," Meng said.

Moreover, the balance should be NT$69.4 million (assuming NT$111 million in donations less NT$41.7 million in expenses), rather than NT$62.62 million, Meng said.

In response to the accusations, Lu simply said that the campaign would provide receipts in the near future, while acknowledging a NT$6.86 million difference.

"The amount of money was already spent, but hasn't been entered into the account books because we have not received the receipts yet," he said.

Aside from the financial discrepancy, members of the campaign's decision-making body offered contradictory statements when asked how much the campaign has spent.

Chang Fu-chung (張富忠), news coordinator of the campaign, said on Sept. 26 that it had spent about NT$50 million, and told a press conference on Oct. 9 that it had spent more than NT$60 million.

Another deputy coordinator, Lee Hsin (李新), said that the donations would be used up soon, and that the campaign would not rule out the possibility of launching another fundraiser in the future.

Campaign spokeswoman Wang Li-ping (王麗萍), however, dismissed Lee's remarks and said the committee did not discuss the possibility of another fundraising.

"We have been so busy with the sit-ins and the national tour, and really don't have time to calculate all the expenses and collect all the receipts," Wang told the Taipei Times.

"But we will control our expenses and won't waste the donation," she said, adding that there was no definite timeline on when the campaign would provide its detailed financial report.

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