Mon, Apr 20, 2009 - Page 3 News List

MOI denies feet-dragging over city-county mergers

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE The central government and the Taichung mayor locked horns over who should be taking the lead in the merger program

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday rebutted accusations by Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) that the central government was delaying the merger of Taichung City and Taichung County.

“The central government is asking local governments to take the initiative in pushing for city-county mergers and the upgrade of administrative status in accordance with the resolution passed by the legislature and public opinion,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

“This approach should not be seen as an attempt to delay the process,” it said.

The ministry made the statement in response to remarks by Hu during a local government heads meeting on Saturday, where he accused the central government of not taking a more active role in pushing for the mergers.

Amendments to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) passed by the Legislative Yuan earlier this month stipulate that cities and counties can merge to meet the population threshold to gain the administrative status of a directly administrated city.

A city under direct Cabinet administration is entitled to bigger budgets.

In addition to the amendments, the legislature adopted a resolution asking the central government not to take the initiative and to allow local governments to push for mergers and administrative status upgrades.

However, Hu said that through inaction the central government was delaying the process, which could have a negative impact on local development and result in public complaints.

Dismissing Hu’s accusation, the ministry said the central government had begun planning for the mergers and upgrades as far back as 2000, before the amendments were passed.

The ministry said that rather than ask the central government to move a little faster on the issue, Taichung City should be the one responsible for speeding up the process.

“In fact, as the Taichung County Council has already passed the city-council merger proposal [on Friday], the ministry expects the Taichung City Council to pass the proposal as soon as possible and submit it to the ministry so that the process can be completed,” the statement said.

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