Legislators from the Transportation Committee yesterday accused the Bureau of High Speed Rail of incompetence after hearing that the High Speed Rail Development Fund (高速鐵路相關建設基金) had suffered a deficit of about NT$30 billion (US$993 million).
The committee was reviewing the budget for the fund for the next fiscal year. A large percentage of the money for the fund comes from revenue generated from the management of property surrounding high-speed rail stations.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuo Wen-chen (郭玟成) said that while the nation’s real estate market had soared, this was not reflected in property near the rail stations.
Revenue generated by such real estate did not even cover interest payments, which he said showed that the bureau was an amateur when it came to property management.
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said the bureau spent NT$20 million hiring a consulting firm to plan the development of land around high-speed rail stations.
Despite this, the bureau only made NT$90 million from property sales this year, Yeh said.
“If [this] were a privately run company, it would have been bankrupt long ago,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) told the session.
KMT Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said one reason why some stations were not making a profit was because few tourists were using the high-speed rail for travel.
Bureau of High Speed Rail Director General Chu Shu (朱旭) attributed the deficit to the global economic downturn, but added that the situation appeared to be much better this year.
Chu said the bureau manages a total of 300 hectares around high-speed rail stations. As of last month, 110 hectares had been sold or leased, generating NT$1.8 billion in revenues.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VINCENT Y. CHAO
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