The Taipei City Government yesterday dismissed criticism that it receives more funds from the central government than other cities, saying that as the nation’s capital, Taipei is responsible for the needs of more than 2.6 million people, including migrants from other cities.
According to the Tax Redistribution Fund (統籌分配款) system, in the next fiscal year Taipei is to continue receiving the most money of all local governments. Of the five special municipalities, Taipei is to be given NT$34.8 billion (US$1.1 billion), Greater Kaohsiung is to receive NT$2.4 billion and New Taipei City will be given about NT$2.5 billion.
Taking into account population, the fund for each Taipei resident is the highest among the five cities, reaching NT$13,000 per capita, while each New Taipei City resident gets only NT$6,350.
The latest fund-redistribution plan again sparked disputes, with many people blaming a persistent, serious imbalance in development between northern and southern Taiwan on an unfair allocation of government revenue.
Taipei City Department of Finance Commissioner Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) yesterday dismissed the criticism and said the annual funds the city receive were being cut every year and while Taipei receives more than other cities, the city government is responsible for a large population, with many residents coming from other cities, and more expenditures than other cities.
“As the capital, Taipei has more city colleges, city hospitals and city high schools than other cities, while we are taking care of the lives of many residents from other cities and counties,” Chiu said.
In response to concerns about a discrepancy in the National Health Insurance (NHI) premium subsidy offered to Taipei and to Greater Kaohsiung, in which Taipei received a subsidy of NT$17.3 billion, while Greater Kaohsiung received only NT$2.2 billion, Chiu said the city received a bigger annual subsidy because Taipei would repay about NT$30 billion in debts to the NHI within the next five years, while Kaohsiung would repay its debts in 10 years’ time.
He also said that besides the tax redistribution fund, the central government is to give general subsidies to all cities and Taipei is to receive a general subsidy of NT$21 billion, which is less than the NT$29 billion that is to be given to Kaohsiung.
“It is unfair that the public is ignoring the fact that Kaohsiung is receiving a higher general subsidy than Taipei and accusing us of enjoying more resources,” Chiu added.