Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Government near collapse, says Taipei County's head

WORKER OVERLOAD The annual staff turnover rate in the county is more than 25 percent, with up to 300 staff leaving each year, due in part to the excessive workload

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei County Government is on the verge of collapse, Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) said yesterday.

If that sounds like sheer alarmism, consider what else Chou said about his county in the Home and Nations legislative committee yesterday.

"The workload of one Taipei County Government civil servant equals that of 30 Taipei City Government civil servants," Chou told legislators yesterday when attending a debate between the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and pan-blue lawmakers in the legislature on whether to pass a bill that would elevate all county and municipal governments to the status of special municipalities under the central government's jurisdiction.

He added that such a workload had contributed to 25 percent of Taipei County Government officials quitting their jobs in recent years.

According to a report that Chou presented to the legislature yesterday, the annual turnover rate in the county government is closer to one-third, with 200 to 300 officials resigning per year to take on posts in the Taipei City or central governments.

Speaking to the Taipei Times on the sidelines of the committee meeting, Chou grumbled that his county is home to the lowest per capita share of human and financial resources as provided by a local-level government in the nation.

That is, Taipei County ranks last among the 25 county and municipal governments nationwide in terms of how much money and other resources it can spend on each resident.

"We're not just second-class citizens -- we're 25th-class citizens," said Chou, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

A co-sponsor of the bill to elevate local-level governments and their officials to the federal level, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said that such legislation would allocate more resources to major administrations like Taipei County Government, which oversees the country's most populous county.

The bill would also stem high turnover rates in the local-level government by giving its civil servants benefits and authority on a par with central government bureaucrats, lawmakers claimed yesterday.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Mei-chu (林美珠), however, was cold to the proposed legislation, saying it would "step on too many toes" and could also be unconstitutional.

"Local-level government is categorized as such by the constitution," Lin said.

She said her ministry sought to push through the legislature its own bills to give local-level governments more resources and clout.

Conferring onto all local-level administrations central authority wasn't the answer, she added.

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