Fri, Aug 03, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taipei City seeks amendment to fight for budget

MONEY ROW Hau Lung-bin said a proposal demanding a NT$100 billion rise in the central government allocation to local governments would be submitted next month

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Forced to fight for Taipei City's budget, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday that the city government would push for an amendment to demand that the central government allot more money to local governments to ensure equitable distribution.

Hau said that the city's finance department was drafting an amendment to the Subdivision of Financial Income and Expenditure Law (財政收支劃分法) to demand that the central government allocate NT$100 billion (NT$3 billion) more to local governments each year, which the Taiwan Provincial Government used to include in its budget until it was dissolved.

The city government will send the draft to the legislature before the new legislative session begins next month and ask lawmakers to make it a priority bill.

Hau said he would also demand that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) declare their stance on the issue.

"Amending the law is the best solution to the problem, and the best way to implement local autonomy and improve local finances. I don't think anyone would oppose this," Hau said at Taipei City Hall.

In May the legislature passed an amendment, which paved the way for Taipei County's elevation to the status of a special municipality directly under the jurisdiction of the Cabinet. As a result, Taipei County Government is entitled to a share of the budget allotted to the Taipei and Kaohsiung city governments.

Opposed to sharing the city's budget with Taipei County, Hau said the city had lost NT$230 billion in budget over the past eight years, and his administration would not make any more compromises on budgetary issues.

Hau said the extra NT$100 billion budget would be sufficient to finance local development, and Taipei would only ask to keep its current level of funding, which was 43 percent of the total budget.

"Keeping the current percentage is our bottom line, but of course we will strive for an increase if possible," he said.

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) yesterday also expressed his opposition to sharing a budget with Taipei and Kaohsiung cities, and proposed that the central government subsidize the county's expenses instead.

During a meeting with the Cabinet yesterday, Chou proposed that the central government subsidize all NT$60 billion to NT$65 billion he said the county deserved following its elevation in status.

The central government could also decide to subsidize the county's legal consolidated budget, and the county government would foot the rest of the bill, Chou said.

Minister Without Portfolio Lin Si-yao (林錫耀) rejected Chou's proposals, but said the Cabinet would invite the three governments to a meeting to discuss the issue.

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