Former Miaoli County commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday rebuffed criticism from incumbent Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) that Liu was “over-extravagant,” calling on Hsu to step down if he is is not up to the job.
Hsu, also a KMT member, was in Taipei on Friday to meet with Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), who he asked for a bailout because the county government is unable to pay its employees’ wages this month.
The commissioner attributed the “huge hole” of debt to the former county administration.
Liu yesterday said that there is no need for Hsu to “cry,” as he could “simply step down, if he is incompetent.”
Underscoring the importance of “financial management,” Liu said he had never fallen into arrears with employees’ salaries during his nine years in the Miaoli government.
Liu said that many of the development projects in the county were “golden eggs,” such as the special industrial zone of the High Speed Railway district, land with a value of about NT$10 billion (US$322 million) that he said could be used to secure a bank loan.
“I would not say it could be a loan of NT$7 billion or NT$8 billion, but at least NT$5 billion could be expected, with which the employees’ wages and pensions could definitely be covered,” he said.
Asked about the county’s massive debt, Liu said the official figure before he left office, “reviewed and ratified by the Ministry of Finance,” was NT$39.8 billion.
“The NT$64.8 billion reported elsewhere has project reserve funds and construction payables added,” Liu said.
“These will be paid with the money to be allotted by the central government and other agencies when the projects are done. They should not be counted as debt,” Liu said.
He also called into question Hsu’s work ethic.
“I’ve heard that [Hsu] goes to the office at 8:30am; I always started work from 7am,” he said.
Hsu said the people of Miaoli are watching.
“[As to the question of] who is competent or not, [I believe that] everyone has a standard in mind,” Hsu said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) criticized Liu, saying that calling people incompetent was wrong.
“[Liu’s] competence lies in his capability to scam the central government,” Lin said.
Lin said there were at least six development projects that have either not begun or have had their contracts terminated, all of which allowed Liu’s county government to pocket millions in bonuses from the central government as “rewards for the promotion of private participation in infrastructure projects.”
According to a Next Magazine report in May, the county government accrued a debt of NT$64.8 billion, a NT$44.6 billion jump from NT$20.2 billion during Liu’s nine-year governance.
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