The Executive Yuan yesterday refuted criticism from the Greater Kaohsiung Government about the ever-decreasing budget allotment for the municipality.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the Democratic Progressive Party on Thursday lambasted the Executive Yuan for failing to deliver on its promise that the city would receive more subsidies from the central government after the 2010 rezoning, which saw the then-Kaohsiung city and Kaohsiung county merge.
According to the city government, the Executive Yuan reduced subsidies for the city by NT$12.7 billion (US$424.3 million) this year and NT$16.6 billion in the draft budget statement for the next fiscal year.
“We have seen a reduction of about NT$30 billion in subsidy funds granted to Kaohsiung in the two years. That really is the limit,” she said.
Chen attributed the cause of the city’s ever-widening deficit to the decrease in appropriation of funds allotted to the city and demanded that the Executive Yuan revise the Public Debt Act (公共債務法) and the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法) to address the problem.
She also said residents of southern Taiwan have been treated less favorably than those in the north, citing the significant discrepancy in the National Health Insurance (NHI) premium subsidy offered to Taipei and to Greater Kaohsiung.
With a population of 2.66 million, Taipei received an NHI subsidy of NT$17.3 billion, while Greater Kaohsiung whose population was 2.77 million received just NT$2.2 billion, she said.
“Could it be that the lives of those in Kaohsiung are worth less than those in Taipei?” she said.
Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Deputy Minister Luh Dun-jin (鹿篤瑾), along with Executive Yuan officials, held a press conference yesterday to respond to the criticism and said Chen had based her accusations on “incorrect information.”
The Executive Yuan gave less money to Greater Kaohsiung because of the completion of its metro construction projects, Luh said.
In the decade since 2001, the subsidy funds appropriated from the Executive Yuan to the city as a whole increased at a rate of 13 percent, or an average of NT$7.1 billion, per year, he said.
As for the NHI subsidy, Luh said the money appropriated to Taipei and Kaohsiung was in line with rules, under which the subsidy was calculated on the basis of the number of the insured who do not have established household registration in the city and whose NHI premium is partially covered by the city government.
The reason Taipei received more in NHI subsidies than Kaohsiung was that Taipei has a larger population without household registration, Luh said.