Tue, Nov 07, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Audit ministry asks for explanation on `state affairs fund'

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA

The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) should provide a clear explanation of a government fund budgeted for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) use, a Ministry of Audit official said yesterday.

Ministry spokesman Wang Yung-hsing (王永興) said that as it is the DGBAS that defines the "state affairs fund," it should take responsibility for providing an explanation.

He made the remarks after the president defended himself in a televised speech a day earlier in the wake of the indictment of his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) on corruption and forgery charges over the alleged misuse of the "state affairs fund." The president was named in the case, but is immune from prosecution while in office.

The president, while acknowledging that Friday's indictment that Wu claimed NT$14.8 million (US$448,500) from the fund between July 2002 and March 2006 poses a threat to his presidency, argued that the perception of what is a "state affairs fund" and its nature differs and that there is no consistent set of criteria.

The Ministry of Audit describes it as business expenditure, while according to the DGBAS, it is a "special fund," adding that if the two government agencies could not agree on it, the average person or public functionary could not be expected to have a clear definition.

Chen also denied that he lined his own pockets using the fund and claimed that it was necessary to use invoices from others to claim reimbursements because the fund is used for confidential diplomatic payments.

Wang refused to accept Chen's explanation, saying that if the fund was confidential, then the DGBAS should take responsibility for giving a clear definition of what it is used for.

Wang said that an invoice or a receipt would usually be enough to claim reimbursement from the "state affairs fund" and that the ministry had no way of detecting if the invoices submitted came from other people unless any irregularities were reported.

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