Mon, Apr 09, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office dismisses `fund task force' report

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed a media report which claimed that the office had recently established a task force to shore up support for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the year-end legislative election by manipulating the system used for the appropriation of funds for lawmakers.

A report appearing in yesterday's Chinese-language United Daily News said the task force, composed of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) staffers and secretaries of ministry chiefs, was set at Chen's request and with Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) knowledge.

The task force's mandate is to allocate the budget the government has placed at lawmakers' disposal for their constituency services, the report said.

Under a subvention system, lawmakers are entitled to apply for governmental grants for small construction projects in their constituencies, with each application to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The report quoted an anonymous source as saying that the government was partial to DPP lawmakers in distributing the grants and that applications filed by opposition lawmakers were often rejected.

"The report was untrue and groundless. [The United Daily News] failed to verify the story and it has been discredited," the press release said.

Meanwhile, Su also denied the report after being asked for comments by reporters yesterday, calling the report nothing more than "mere speculation."

The report said that some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers had called a press conference criticizing the government for being partial in its allocation.

KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) said that her supporters always complained that the grants they received were always smaller than those given to DPP lawmakers.

DPP caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓), however, dismissed the KMT's allegation.

Wang said that a better system had been established since the DPP came in power in 2000, in which legislators could no longer directly apply for central government subsidies for construction projects in their electoral districts as they did in the past.

Legislators desirig to obtain this type of funding must now include their request in the local government administration's plans and pass a review by the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

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