Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials denied claims that presidential candidate and Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is still receiving interest from a preferential savings account she vowed to close four months ago.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), who was also behind the earlier furor over the issue, alleged that Tsai had failed to apply to close the account given to retired civil servants.
Without officially notifying the ministry to cancel her account, Tsai could easily deposit money back into the account and continue receiving a government-subsidized 18 percent annual interest rate, Chiu said.
The savings account is a sensitive issue for Tsai, a former vice premier, whose party has criticized the program as being unfair amid public interest rates of as low as 1 percent.
Saying that the information was corroborated by the ministry, Chiu said that without the account being closed, it was likely that Tsai could “still [be] receiving the 18 percent [interest rate],” — a version of events the DPP categorically disputes.
Also casting doubt on the matter was Minister of Civil Service Chang Che-chen (張哲琛), who when reached for comment yesterday afternoon, said the account could be closed by applying directly with the Bank of Taiwan instead of the ministry, which previously never received such applications.
In a statement, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said Tsai had applied to clear the account with the Bank of Taiwan on Jan. 14, one day after she publicly vowed to close the account.
The procedure was completed four days later, Chen said, and confirmed with the bank.
“The accusations are completely groundless. This smacks of political manipulation and is clearly a malicious lie,” Chen said. “It’s an effort to boast Chiu’s media profile before his coming re-election bid.”
The controversy comes four months after DPP lawmakers launched a challenge to the preferential savings program, contending that the benefits for public sector retirees had far outpaced those in the private sector, making the accounts, which accrue thousands of New Taiwan dollars each month, unfair for taxpayers.
However, a row then erupted after information showed that several retired DPP politicians were also benefiting from the program. Tsai later announced that she would close her account, which was generating up to NT$62,800 a month in interest.
Chen said it was “disappointing” that the KMT lawmaker was recycling the old issue, calling it a “smear” on the DPP chairperson.
Instead of asking the DPP to reply to the accusations, Chen said: “Perhaps he [Chiu] should first offer some evidence to back up his claims.”
In related news, sources close to former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) confirmed that an anticipated Tsai-Su meeting would be held at 10am on Thursday at Su’s former campaign headquarters.
The discussion between the two former DPP primary adversaries is expected to center on how they plan to coordinate their campaign teams for the coming presidential election.