Mon, Jun 20, 2011 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Political parties’ finances are back in the spotlight

By Wang Yu-chung, Fan Cheng-hsiang, Lee Hsin-feng and Lin Shu  /  Staff Reporters

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters on Bade Road in Taipei is photographed on June 1.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

With candidates eyeing a seat in January’s combined legislative and presidential elections poised to kick off their campaigns, the financial status of the nation’s major political parties has once again come under the media spotlight.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), despite being the nation’s largest opposition party, is known for its lack of financial resources when compared with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Opposed to the idea of party-run businesses, the DPP’s funding comes mainly from subsidies and small donations. It doesn’t even own its party headquarters in Taipei, but leases it instead.

As per regulations in the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選罷法), political parties who win at least 5 percent of -legislators-at-large in an election are entitled to have their election campaign costs subsidized by the nation at the rate of NT$50 (US$1.73) per vote per year until the legislators’ terms are served.

Currently, the subsidy allotted to the DPP is NT$180 million.

Every year in July, the Ministry of the Interior posts online asset reports that were filed by political parties the previous year.

According to the 2009 report filed by the DPP, the party at the time was about NT$140 million in debt. Sources have said that although the party has repaid about NT$100 million over the past three years by using public donations. However, it still owes about NT$22 million.

Data from the ministry showed that the DPP’s total expenditure for 2009 was about NT$536 million, NT$173 million of which came from political donations.

As for personnel expenditure, the report said DPP spending was NT$76 million with a staff of 125, less than 5 percent of the KMT’s total, which amounted to NT$1.5 billion.

According to the report, DPP finances, as of 2009, stood at about NT$300 million, with fixed assets in land and real estate accounting for a third of this. However, most of the land and real estate, including the party’s branch office in Taipei City, are held as collateral or mortgaged to banks for loans.

Sources said that the DPP’s financial burden is likely to get heavier as a result of the approaching election campaigns.

The KMT, on the other hand, has far more party assets.

ASSETS

According to the ministry’s 2009 political party asset report, the KMT possessed 142 plots of land and 163 pieces of real estate.

The ministry’s data showed that the KMT’s total expenditure that year was NT$2.6 billion, with personnel expenditure exceeding half of that amount (NT$1.5 billion).

More than 700 full-time staff members work in the central party headquarters and local party branches, and that the number could easily exceed 900 if drivers, workers and the re-hiring of retirees is added.

The 2009 report also showed that the KMT’s had about NT$29 billion in assets, with about 90 percent of that in investments, NT$1.7 billion in liquid assets, NT$920 million in real estate, with debts of about NT$110 million.

It is estimated that the KMT’s total expenditure per year on salaries, pensions and day-to-day office management amounted to NT$220 million, not including election campaign spending.

Central Investment Holding Co (中央投資), one of the two KMT-owned corporations, owns the KMT’s party headquarters, located on Taipei’s Bade Road.

NO BUYER

The KMT had proposed a “party-owned businesses disposal plan,” which said it would auction off Central Investment Holding in June last year, but several deals fell through, meaning it has had to be relisted four times.

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