The Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) said yesterday that its officials had committed administrative errors leading to a delay in payment of salaries at council-funded childcare centers in Pingtung County.
As part of a short-term employment project initiated by the council last year, it has been funding childcare centers run by non-governmental organizations in Aboriginal regions in Pingtung.
The project aims to provide better childcare in remote Aboriginal villages and create jobs for women.
Pingtung County’s Indigenous People’s Department (IPD) said that nearly 200 women benefited from the program last year.
However, Ko Hui-chen (柯惠珍), who works at a childcare center in Sandimen Township (三地門), Pingtung County, filed a complaint to the IPD, saying that childcare center employees had not been paid since January.
Ko said that she enjoyed working at the center, but may be forced to find a new job if she doesn’t get paid soon.
“We don’t have the money to pay them because the CIP has yet to deliver the budget to us,” IPD official Feng Pei-ling (馮佩玲) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
Feng said when she contacted the CIP, it said that the delay was because the Pingtung County Government sent the required applications and documents too late.
“We turned in the required application in mid-January, but the CIP didn’t tell us that they needed additional documents until recent press reports addressed the issue” Feng said.
CIP Health and Welfare Department Deputy Director Chen Shu-min (陳淑敏) said that the council was unable to deliver the money because it didn’t receive all the required documents from the county government and that the daycare providers were not licensed to work at the centers under a rule that took effect in February.
She also said that childcare centers in more than 10 Aboriginal communities in Pingtung had been affected.
“Of course I have to admit that the CIP has committed administrative errors as we did not ask the county government to submit the additional documents in time and did not fully communicate with them about the new rule,” Chen said. “It’s our fault. Relevant officials will be penalized and we will travel to Pingtung [today] with Ministry of the Interior officials to see how we can resolve the license issue.”
In related news, Aboriginal lawmakers across party lines yesterday panned the CIP for not speaking for Aborigines when the Executive Yuan lowered the required percentage of Aboriginal workers in the Act for the Establishment and Management of Free Ports (自由貿易港區設置管理條例) from 5 percent to 1 percent during the weekly Cabinet meeting last week.
Facing criticism at the Internal Administration Committee meeting yesterday, CIP Vice Minister Watan Kiso defended the council by saying that it agreed to the change in order to establish a unified standard for the percentage of Aboriginal workers to be hired.
“There are also laws that only require employers to hire less than 1 percent of Aborigines, so for these industries, the percentage is actually an increase,” Watan said. “You can’t just look at the free ports case — we’re trying to establish a unified standard for all sectors.”