Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) yesterday rebutted a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) allegation that the city did not participate in the World Expo in Shanghai because of differences in “political ideology.”
“If the organizers of the World Expo had invited every local government in Taiwan, you could hold me responsible for the city’s absence. However, the organizers did not invite me at all,” Chen said, adding that she did not have any channel to directly talk to Beijing, either.
Chen made the remarks on the council floor in response to KMT Kaohsiung City Councilor Wang Ling-chiao’s (王齡嬌) criticism that the city government failed to raise funds to build an exhibition hall to showcase the city’s attractions as Taipei did.
Chen also defended the city’s debt status after a magazine survey showed that Kaohsiung had the highest debt per capita among the nation’s 25 cities and counties.
The Chinese-language Common Wealth magazine said on Thursday that Kaohsiung’s debt per capita hit NT$95,190 (US$2,900), followed by Taipei’s NT$65,000 and Yilan’s NT$43,000.
“The city government took out loans legally and reasonably,” Chen told reporters after the council session, adding that the city government had invested heavily in public construction projects since Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) was mayor, including the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit System and the sewage system.
Lei Chung-dar (雷仲達), director-general of the city’s Finance Bureau, said the city government invested NT$26 billion in the MRT system, roughly NT$1 billion on dredging rivers, NT$1.5 billion to construct the Kaohsiung Arena, NT$1.2 billion to build the World Games Main Stadium and NT$10 billion to build a sewage system since 2004.
Lei said there had been little growth in the city’s annual tax revenue in recent years, but the city government had never stopped investing in public infrastructure.