Sat, Aug 16, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Welfare activists protest diversion of state funding

OUT OF POCKET Welfare groups say they often have to pay for government-sponsored projects on their own because the money they apply for is withheld

By Loa Iok-Sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A dozen social welfare groups staged a demonstration in Taipei yesterday, saying the government owed them millions of NT dollars, before filing a complaint with the Control Yuan.

“The government has outsourced social welfare programs or promised financial aid to social welfare groups across the country. However, the government has either delayed payments or simply owes the money,” League of Social Welfare Organizations in Taiwan secretary-general Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋) told those demonstrating outside the Control Yuan.

Wang went on to say that in most cases, social welfare groups would apply for financial aid from the central government through local governments, then receive the money from the local governments after the central government allocated the requested money.

“However, instead of giving the money to the social welfare groups that requested it, local governments often use the money for their own construction projects,” Wang said.

“As far as I know, the Taichung County Government already owes more than NT$10 million [US$318,000] to social welfare groups — some payments have been delayed for two to three years already,” said Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲), secretary-general of the Alliance for Handicapped People.

Women’s Rescue Foundation executive director Cynthia Kao (高小晴) complained about the outsourcing of welfare projects.

“Central or local governments quite often delay payments to social welfare groups for outsourced projects, and sometimes they even try to bargain,” Kao said.

Kao said that it is normal for government officials to ask for a discount of around 10 percent from the price already agreed upon before signing the contract.

“Of course the government is able to keep promising more social welfare, because it’s often the social workers from social welfare groups that have to put their own money into executing the government’s projects,” said Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華), secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare.

After a brief press conference and demonstration, the groups’ representatives walked into the Control Yuan to submit their complaints and push for an investigation.

Unexpectedly walking into Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien right after entering the building, the groups’ request was accepted and an investigation was promised.

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