Thu, May 07, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Interior minister pays for voucher program losses

OWN MONEY Liao Liou-yi said he used NT$1.7 million of his salary and NT$4.8 million in donations from friends to pay for the NT$6.7 million shortage

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) said yesterday that he had paid for the NT$6.7 million (US$202,000) in losses from the consumer vouchers program with money from his and his friends' own pockets.

From Jan. 18 up to last Thursday, the government issued NT$3,600 consumer vouchers to Taiwanese nationals as well as their foreign spouses with household registrations in the nation.

After the distribution process was over, the ministry — which was in charge of running the distribution centers — found that there was a loss of more than NT$12.3 million.

“After deducting the NT$5,614,400 that is covered by insurance, there is a NT$6.7 million shortage — which I have taken cared of as promised,” Liao said in a statement yesterday.

In January, Liao promised during a press conference that he would cover any losses with money from his own pocket.

He said at the time that he would do so because he didn't want to hold staff at consumer voucher distribution locations responsible for any losses.

As soon as the final tally was confirmed, Liao fulfilled his promise.

“I get a monthly payment of NT$156,738, which adds up to NT$1,724,200 in total during the 11 months since I took office,” Liao said. “I used this amount to cover the losses from the national coffers.”

Liao's friends made donations to help cover the other NT$4.8 million, he said.

Liao said that he had already given the money to the Council for Economic Planning and Development, which was in charge of issuing the consumer vouchers.

Although many people have praised Liao for his actions, some lawmakers disagreed with Liao's handling of the issue.

“It doesn't make sense that staff at distribution centers can shirk their responsibilities,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said. “They're not volunteers, they're paid workers. Of course they should be held responsible for any mistakes.”

On the other hand, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that the issue should be dealt with according to the law.

“Distributing consumer vouchers is official business, it's not Liao's personal business, so it's not right that he has covered the loss out of his own pocket,” Lo said. “We have laws and regulations regarding problems like this. It should be handled according to the law.”

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