Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh tells Ma to clarify fund's usage

FOLLOW ME While providing receipts to explain his own fund expenses as Kaohsiung mayor, Hsieh questioned Ma over the usage of the Taipei mayor's special allowance

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), the Demo-cratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate, yesterday urged Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to come clean on his use of a special allowance.

DPP lawmakers late last month accused Ma of pocketing money from the fund that the city government gives the mayor. The case is currently under investigation by Black Gold Investigation Bureau prosecutors.

Hsieh, who served as Kaohsiung mayor from 1999 to last year, made public details of his expenditure of a similar fund during his six years in office during a press conference yesterday.

Hsieh said that the fund was spent on six major categories -- gifts of cash for weddings and funerals, employee rewards, meal expenses, donations to the disadvantaged, receptions for guests and sponsorship fees.

"I found it unusual that most of Mayor Ma's special allowance, about 83.54 percent, was used in rewarding employees. It's also strange that he didn't spend any amount in donations for the disadvantaged, receiving guests and sponsorship fees," Hsieh said.

Hsieh was referring to Ma's comment in response to the DPP lawmakers' allegations that most of the money was spent in rewarding city employees.

In accordance with related regulations on the use of the special allowance, city mayors are required to provide receipts when seeking reimbursements for half of the special allowance; the remaining half can be used without providing receipts.

Hsieh yesterday displayed a stack of receipts, which he said were evidence of how he used the remaining half of the special allowance, adding that they proved he used the whole fund in public affairs even though he was not required to submit receipts for reimbursement.

"Ma should also tell the people how he uses his special allowance. If Ma used the fund in public affairs, he must have the original receipts," Hsieh said.

Ma declined to comment when questioned by reporters yesterday.

In related developments, pan-blue and pan-green legislators yesterday traded accusations of politicizing the budget issues involving President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma.

KMT Legislator Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) criticized the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) for failing to offer the public a clear explanation of the matter and thus causing a political storm.

"If there is anything wrong with Mayor Ma's [use of the] special allowance fund, the nation's 6,500 local chiefs who enjoy similar fund allocations must have the same problem," Tseng said.

Aside from questioning Ma for failing to provide receipts on the fund's usage, lawmakers have charged that the mayor embezzled NT$79,700 from the special allowance to pay for a physical exam and fees to adopt a dog, known as Ma Hsiao-jeou (馬小九).

Ma has admitted using money from the fund for the adoption, but the bill came to only NT$9,900 and not NT$79,700, he said. Ma has said that he has repaid the amount.

Chen, meanwhile, is embroiled in a graft allegation that he used fake receipts to seek reimbursements from his state affairs fund.

The anti-corruption center under the Taiwan High Prosecutors' Office is probing the allegation.

Shih Su-mei (石素梅), commissioner of Taipei City's Budget, Accounting and Statistics Department, said that its investigations have not shown any irregularities.

DGBAS Vice Minister Lu Du-chin (鹿篤瑾) also said that the way Ma received the fund conformed to the administrative procedure, but his department respected Ma's right to allocate the money as long as it is used for public or charity purposes.

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