The Control Yuan yesterday initiated corrective measures against the Executive Yuan and the Department of Health (DOH), accusing the government bodies of negligence in establishing a comprehensive and effective food safety mechanism to ensure the health of the public.
Urging the government agencies to take steps to redress problems pointed out by the Control Yuan, Control Yuan member Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) said he would suggest impeaching the premier and the head of the DOH if they failed to make improvements in two years and in one year respectively.
An investigation conducted by Cheng and his colleagues Wu Feng-shan (吳豐山) and Yang Mei-ling (楊美鈴) concluded there were major problems in food safety supervision.
The investigation report said that the budget earmarked for governance of food sanitation last year was NT$81.5 million (US$2.4 million), accounting for less than 0.2 percent of the DOH’s annual budget.
The budget was completely insufficient, the report said, as the allotment of funding for each citizen was just NT$11, compared with NT$45 in Japan, NT$160 in the US, NT$158 in the UK and NT$458 in Hong Kong.
“Look at the number of government buildings lying idle around the country, each of which costs hundreds of millions of NT dollars, yet the government spent less than NT$100 million on food safety supervision,” Wu said.
The Control Yuan members called on the Executive Yuan to establish a Cabinet-level commission to coordinate policies on food safety at different government departments.
Cheng said that the DOH would be charged with dereliction of duty because it had not tried to find solutions to a shortage of personnel that has persisted for several years.
“There are only 29 people in the DOH’s department of food sanitation, or 8.29 percent of the total number of DOH staff. The personnel arrangement of the food sanitation department in the US is 14.6 times higher than Taiwan’s … while in Hong Kong it is 17.7 times higher,” Yang said.