Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) joined forces yesterday to petition Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) in the hope of stopping the central government from allowing Taipei County to take a share of their annual budget.
The legislature passed in May an amendment allowing Taipei County to be elevated to the status of a special municipality directly under the jurisdiction of the Cabinet, as a result of which the Taipei County Government would be entitled to a share of the budget allotted to the Taipei and Kaohsiung city governments.
The Ministry of Finance estimated that this would result in a NT$18.3 billion (US$555 million) annual shortfall for the Taipei City Government and NT$10 billion for Kaohsiung.
Hau and Chen expressed their concerns directly to the premier at yesterday's weekly Cabinet meeting. They said the elevation of Taipei County was the central government's responsibility.
The central government, they said, should therefore take care of the additional financial needs of the Taipei County Government, instead of asking Taipei City and Kaohsiung City to share their funds with their "new friend."
"If NT$18.3 billion is taken from our budget, it would mean that 15 percent of our annual budget would have disappeared. This is unfair to the residents of Taipei," Hau said.
Chen said she welcomed Taipei County's promotion but was unhappy with the manner in which the central government has dealt with the matter.
"It is the central government's policy to ensure that the development of Taipei City and Kaohsiung City is balanced. Now that our budget must be shared, I am afraid that this will never be accomplished," Chen said.
The premier said he understood Hau's and Chen's concerns and would look into the matter.