Wed, Jul 29, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Taipei protests order to pay insurance subsidies

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government yesterday cried foul over its outstanding national health insurance subsidy debts, saying it was unfair for the capital to shoulder NT$38 billion (US$1.2 billion) in payments for non-residents.

The problem stems from President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) tenure as Taipei mayor, when the city government decided not to pay the fees because it disagreed with the way the bureau calculated the size of the city's workforce.

Local governments are required by law to pay one-third of the costs of medical treatment incurred in the previous year by residents in their jurisdiction. Taipei has insisted that a lack of funds has prevented it from paying the debts.

Past lawsuits resulted in a Supreme Administrative Court ruling against Taipei City Government, which was told to repay the debt it accrued between 1999 and 2002.

Addressing the matter of back payments, Premier Liu Chao-hsiuan (劉兆玄) has instructed the Department of Health to ask the city government to propose plots of land or other assets equal in value to those plots that had been confiscated from the local government as security against the unpaid debt, so that they could be returned to the local government to be developed.

Taipei City Finance Department head Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) yesterday said the city had found 20 plots of land with an estimated market value of NT$800 million (US$24.4 million), hoping to exchange them with the 31 lots seized by the central government.

Su Ying-kuei (蘇盈貴), commissioner of Taipei City's Labor Department, yesterday said that it was unfair to ask the city to cover people whose household registrations were not in the city.

While the city has a workforce of about 1.4 million, the city government pays the health insurance subsidy for 3.6 million people, he said.

Su criticized the central government for reducing the tax redistribution fund to local governments since July 1999 and thus diminishing the city treasury by NT$109.6 billion so far.

Taking business tax as an example, Su said lowering the business tax from 5 percent to 2 percent has taken NT$6 billion each year from city government coffers.

Su said it was “stupid” for the central government to confiscate land from the local government.

He said the central government's handling of the matter had “harmed” the local government.

“Isn't this an indication that they are very incompetent?” he asked.

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