The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) was censured yesterday by the Control Yuan for overcharging motorists NT$1.1 billion (US$36.7 million) in fuel taxes since 1983.
According to Control Yuan member Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏), the absence of an audit mechanism within the ministry let the calculation errors go unnoticed for more than 29 years, affecting 2.18 million motorists before being discovered earlier this year.
Cheng also accused the ministry of negligence in failing to conduct a comprehensive review of the system when it partially adjusted the rates in 2002 and 2004, thus missing out on the opportunity to address the errors earlier.
Despite the widespread impact of the excessive taxes, the ministry only punished four officials who were directly involved and spared others who should be held jointly responsible, he said.
“This reflects a long-term practice in which the negligence of ministry staff is condoned,” Cheng said.
He also said that the Control Yuan, the branch of government responsible for investigating and censuring public officials or agencies for improper or illegal behavior, also discovered several other errors that occurred before 1983 during the investigation into the case.
The fuel tax is assessed once a year on all vehicle owners and is based on a vehicle’s horsepower. The calculation errors were uncovered by the Chinese-language Apple Daily in April, which prompted the ministry to decide to refund the affected motorists beginning this month.