Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 4 News List

No upgrade yet on NSO status

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A legislative committee yesterday failed to reach a consensus on upgrading the legal status of the National Space Organization (NSO) amid allegations that the space center had colluded with contractors to waste taxpayers' money.

Facing opposition from some committee members, the Organic Laws and Statutes Committee resolved that committee members will visit the center to obtain first-hand information before reaching any decision.

The committee requested that the National Science Council present an assessment report on the center's request to upgrade its legal status and change its name to national space institute.

The committee will also hold a public hearing to solicit opinions from experts on the issue before reviewing the draft bill governing the establishment of the institution.

Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙) questioned the center's ARGO satellite project, alleging that the center awarded the contract to a favored company and wasted taxpayers' money.

Chief engineer David Chu (祝飛鴻), however, denied the allegation, saying they had chosen the company because it is the only one that does the inspection of the system.

The center granted the contract in August last year and did not pay any money for the information the company provided over the past year, he added.

Once the project is up and running, it is estimated it will bring in NT$2.4 billion (US$75 million) in six years, Chiu said.

Liao called the center's Director General Lance Wu (吳作樂) a liar and requested he review the center's future direction before asking the committee to let it upgrade its legal status.

Liao said revenues generated by the sale were NT$1 million last year, he said. Wu, however, said the figures were higher.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislators Tsao Shou-min (曹壽民) proposed to suspend the debate on upgrading the center's legal status before certain issues were addressed.

Tsao said that the center has spent NT$19.7 billion on the space technology development project since its commencement in October 1991 but so far has only produced a five-page report.

He questioned the quantity and quality of the center's scientists, saying that some of them were college graduates and that 14 of its research fellows received monthly salaries that were as high as the basic salary of lawmakers.

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