Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Yeh suggests allowance amnesty

EASY OUT?The DPP caucus whip said that as the system in which special allowance funds are awarded to local chiefs needs to be reconsidered, an amnesty was in order

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) yesterday proposed a special amnesty for "government chiefs whose handling of their special funds may result in controversy."

Yeh told a press conference that she agreed that a systemic review of how the funds are used was required given the problems that have recently arisen.

Yeh added that her proposal did not mean that Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not need to "tell the truth about how he spent his fund."

Yeh said that Ma should not have treated money left over from the fund as his own because Article 61 of the Budget Law (預算法) stipulates that money left over from government budgets can only be used within the same financial year and Article 72 of the law says that governmental agencies should cease using their budgets once a financial year has ended.

Review

At a separate news conference, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said it was necessary to review the regulations on how special allowances should be used, but that the present disputes should be dealt with according to the law.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday he agreed with Yeh's suggestion, adding that it might provide a solution to the disputes of special funds.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) also seconded the idea, saying that there were flaws in the provision for special funds.

"If investigations were conducted thoroughly, tens of thousands of sitting and retired government officials [who have or have had access to special allowance funds] might be implicated," Tsai said.

The People First Party (PFP), however, rejected the idea.

"We oppose an amnesty over the special allowance fund scandal because this is not something that should be left to the discretion of legislators," PFP Spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said.

"No matter how defective the special allowance fund system is, the money is sourced from the hardworking public. There is no reason to pardon officials who pocketed the money," Lee said.

Ulterior motive?

Lee said he suspected that Yeh had suggested the amnesty to protect DPP politicians such as Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun who are all being investigated over their handling of special allowance funds during their tenures as local chiefs.

Nevertheless, both KMT and PFP lawmakers said they advocated reforming the special allowance fund system by enacting a special law.

Earlier yesterday, a group of KMT lawmakers held a press conference calling for the enacting of such a law to stipulate clear-cut regulations for government officials.

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