Tue, May 01, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Protect all cultures: lawmakers

BID RIGGING?As well as calling for equal treatment for various cultures, lawmakers called for an investigation into irregularities in bidding for a NT$6 billion contract under Emile Sheng

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Lee Ying-yuan, left, and Lin Chia-lung, right, and Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia, center, yesterday hold a press conference to question the budgets for certain cultural programs.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Legislators yesterday called on the head of the soon-to-be--established Ministry of Culture to “rationally” allocate resources and attach equal value to the various cultures and ethnic groups in Taiwan.

Council of Culture Affairs Minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) briefed lawmakers on the progress of preparations for the ministry, which is to be launched on May 20, as part of a government restructuring project that will conclude at the end of 2014.

Under the project, which will see the Executive Yuan reduce its current 37 agencies to 29, sub-units under the Government Information Office, the Ministry of Education and the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission will be folded into the council, which will be elevated to ministerial status.

Lung, who used various metaphors to illustrate the complexity of the project, said she was nevertheless confident the ministry was on track to operate as scheduled.

Lung’s briefing left lawmakers across party lines with the impression that she offered more rhetoric than concrete plans to lead the ministry.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said she worried whether Lung was ready for the job.

“You used at least 10 negative adjectives in your presentation. With the power to allocate budget, I didn’t hear your plans to resolve the problem of misuse of funds,” Cheng said.

The problem was most recently manifested in the case involving Lung’s predecessor, former Council of Culture Affairs minister Emile Sheng (盛治仁), who allocated NT$215 million (NT$7.15 million) to the Dreamers (夢想家) rock musical, which was performed for only two evenings as part of the Republic of China’s centennial celebrations last year.

Cheng said the amount accounted for nearly half of the ministry’s annual budget of about NT$425 million for sponsoring performance arts.

Opposition lawmakers said Sheng might have been involved in another suspected irregularity in the bidding for NT$6 billion of a government fund totaling NT$10 billion aimed at promoting cultural innovation.

DPP Legislator Lin Chia-long (林佳龍) said six of the 12 venture capital corporations that secured the bids were established within six months before the bid opened and three of the six bidders were registered at the same address.

“Bid rigging is suspected,” Lin said.

Chinatrust Venture Capital Corp was one of the winning bidders, as was CITIC Group, owner of L’Hotel de Chine Group, of which Sheng was appointed president in January, two months after stepping down as minister.

Those developments were also suspicious, Lin said.

Along with Lin, Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) and DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) also raised questions over Sheng’s role in the bidding process for a creative development program.

The twelve winners from the 24 bidding companies won the bid with a tender price of NT$64,666,666, which was the exact starting price, Lin Chia-lung said, adding that the program appeared to have been “tailor-made” for the 12 companies.

The 12 companies, which were required to invest NT$500 million each for a total of NT$6 billion in the NT$10 billion development fund, received 13 percent of the NT$6 billion as management fees, which is a lot higher than the market rate of 2.5 percent, Lin Shih-chia said.

Under the program, each company would receive 20 percent of the net profit as bonuses, which is also a lot higher than the market rate, Lee said.

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