Commissioners and mayors of seven cities and counties yesterday signed a joint letter demanding that the central government adjust its loan capacity structure and debt ceiling limits so that local governments can avoid potential bankruptcy, amid a proposed amendment to the Public Debt Act (公共債務法).
Led by Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠), the seven cities and counties urged the central government to increase the debt limit for 16 cities and counties, excluding the five special municipalities, from 1.43 percent of the average GDP of the previous three years, to 2.63 percent.
Hsinchu and Keelung cities, as well as Pingtung, Yunlin, Yilan and Hualien counties also sent representatives — lawmakers or deputy commissioners — to the press conference at the legislature.
Under the Cabinet’s proposed amendment, total public debt at all levels of government would be capped at 50 percent of the average GDP for the previous three years. A debt limit of 41.2 percent would be set for the central government, 7.25 percent for the special municipalities, 1.43 percent for the remaining 16 counties and cities, and 0.12 percent for all villages and townships.
Chang said the plan was unfair for the 16 cities and counties and has once again shown the imbalance of fund allocation between various levels of governments.
The debt capacity for the special municipalities would be 5.07 times that of the 16 cities and counties, despite the municipalities having a combined population that is only 2.23 times that of the smaller cities and counties, said Chang, who initiated the recommendation on Dec. 5.
The seven commissioners and mayors recommended revising the debt structure so that the central government would give up 1.2 percent of its capacity to the 16 cities and counties, Chang said.
They also recommended lowering the debt ceiling for local governments from 45 percent of the annual budget to 80 percent.
According to Chang, Yilan County, Miaoli County and Hsinchu City have all exceeded their debt ceilings, and five other local governments, including Chiayi County, are close to reaching their debt limits.
The recommended measures would not change the state of local governments’ finances overnight, but are expected to ease the fiscal burden, Chang said.
“No one wants to incur debt and we know the nation’s finances are in a difficult condition, but the truth is that local governments have suffered from unfair budget allocations for decades and the resulting financial hardship has impeded local development,” Pingtung Deputy Commissioner Chung Chia-ling (鍾佳濱) said.
DPP Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國), who represented Yunlin County at the press conference, warned the government against ignoring poorer cities and counties and only paying attention to the densely populated special municipalities.
“The Constitution stipulates that each and every citizen should be treated the same way and the government should not make some people ‘A-class’ citizens and others ‘B-class,’” Liu said.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
NEW CASE REPORTED: A man who returned from South Africa on a flight with the nation’s 460th and 461st cases has now tested positive for the disease The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that there is no need to test all arrivals to the nation for COVID-19, a policy the Executive Yuan supports. The center reported one new imported case, bringing the nation’s tally of confirmed cases to 477. The new case is a Taiwanese man in his 60s who on July 25 returned from South Africa, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman. The man had returned to Taiwan on the same flight as cases Nos. 460 and 461, reported on July 27, Chuang said. On July 24,
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan