Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday condemned the Taipei City Government for spending more than NT$24 million (US$710,000) on year-end gifts for officials and civil servants, urging it to use the budget on municipal residents instead.
The budget was spent on gifts, greeting cards and calendars for the new year, with Taipei City’s Department of Environmental Protection topping other departments by spending more than NT$5 million to purchase bicycles and convenience store vouchers as gifts for staffers who will work extra shifts during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) also gave each top-level official a bicycle as a year-end gift with a budget of NT$240,000, the councilors said.
“The Hau administration’s performance was the third worst amid 25 local governments in a China Times survey, but it is No. 1 when it comes to a wasteful budget for year-end gifts,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) told a press conference yesterday at the Taipei City Council.
Wu and DPP Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) criticized the city government for squandering taxpayers’ money on civil servants, who already received year-end bonuses and will have monetary rewards for working extra shifts during the holidays, and ignoring a growing number of citizens whose lives have become difficult amid the recent economic downturn.
“The city government wasted residents’ tax money on its own staffers or for public relations purposes. It’s unacceptable especially during this difficult time,” Hsu said.
The NT$24 million budget could be used to provide free lunches for 500,000 students or pay for health insurance fee for low-income families, the councilors said.
In response, Taipei City Government spokesman Yang Hsiao-tung (羊曉東) yesterday said the year-end gifts and greeting cards were given out in appreciation of civil servant or volunteers’ hard work during the past year.
Wu and Hsu urged the city government to reduce the budget for year-end gifts, and vowed to review the budget seriously this year.