Fri, Apr 24, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Civic groups call for more transparency

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Civic groups and academics yesterday called for more transparency in the way public funds are invested, saying they suspected the government of secretly using the funds to stabilize the stock market and benefit certain companies.

Although the country established the Government Information Disclosure Act (政府資訊公開法) in 2005, it had not been properly implemented, the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan said.

The foundation said that when it sent petitions to various government agencies seeking disclosures on the stock portfolios of the four major government-run funds — the Civil Service Pension Fund, the Postal Savings Fund, the Labor Insurance Fund and the Labor Pension Fund — the petitions were either rejected or ignored.

Chien Hsi-chieh, director of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan, said the public had a right to know what financial assets these institutions held, and that the foundation would file for administrative litigation.

“Whether it be investment of funds or government officials’ special funds, as long as classified information is not involved, the details should be made public to stop corruption,” he said.

Kang Jung-pao (康榮寶), associate professor of accounting at National Chengchi University, used mutual funds as an example.

“Whether or not you pay attention to what the mutual fund managers invest in, the investment bank publicizes the stock holdings of the fund every three months,” he said. “However, the government refuses to publicize the stock portfolio of the labor insurance and pension funds. Are workers not entitled to the same rights as those who invest in mutual funds?”

Kang said that by looking at the large deficits the funds have suffered since last September — NT$80 billion (US$2.4 billion) in total — it was apparent that the managers of these funds had not operated in the best interests of the more than 8 million workers in the country.

In response, Huang Chao-hsi (黃肇熙), chairperson of the Labor Pension Fund Supervisory Committee, said the Council of Labor Affairs regularly publicize the financial conditions of its funds as required by law.

However, “it would not be appropriate to detail stock holdings to the public, because it may benefit those who attempt to manipulate the stock market,” he said.

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