Twenty-five elementary schools in Taipei City could be involved in alleged school lunch bribery cases, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City councilor said yesterday, urging Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to look into the situation.
Amid a recent investigation into at least 10 elementary school principals from New Taipei City (新北市) over allegations they accepted kickbacks from school lunch vendors, KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) said two of the suspected vendors may have provided lunches to 12 elementary schools for the past nine years. This is on top of another 13 elementary schools that have been using the same school lunch vendors for the past six years.
“It is unusual for the same school lunch vendors to win public bids for lunches for six or nine consecutive years. The city government should address the issue immediately and see if any school principals took kickbacks from the vendors,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council.
News of the alleged bribery involving school lunches emerged last month in New Taipei City after more than 10 elementary school principals were suspected of taking kickbacks from lunch vendors.
A preliminary investigation by the Banciao District Prosecutors’ Office showed that the lunch vendors might have bribed the school principals to receive a better evaluation, helping their bids to supply school lunches.
The Ministry of Justice launched a nationwide inspection of bids for school lunch contracts and found that of more than 1,500 junior-high and elementary schools that offered lunches, about 300 could be involved in kickback scandals.
Hau yesterday expressed concerns about schools being involved in corruption and said the city government would look into the situation.
The city government also said it welcomed any information the public could give on such cases and that it would offer a reward of NT$2 million (US$60,000) for confirmed cases.
“The Department of Government Ethics will look into the situation, especially schools that have dealt with the problematic vendors, and we will not tolerate any illegal acts like this in schools,” he said.