Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Ko makes U-turn on officials’ low rents

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The lower rents paid by top Taipei City Government officials living in dormitories managed by the city are a benefit that the officials receive to make up for their low salaries, and the cut-price rates would not be available to ordinary city residents, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday.

Ko made the remark on the sidelines of an inauguration ceremony for a military reserve force command center in Beitou District (北投.

The salaries paid to top city government officials are “too low” in comparison with their Singaporean peers, Ko said.

The 16 dormitories are in an upscale condominium on Zhongshan N Rosd, Sec 2, that the officials share with ordinary residents.

According to the Taipei Department of Personnel, 15 officials have moved into the building and pay rents of NT$700 per month, plus a monthly management fee of NT$700.

Ko on Saturday said that the city government plans to raise the rent by at least NT$6,000 per month, adding that even with the raise, the rent paid by the officials would still be only about 25 percent of the rental market value.

He decried the rent paid by the officials, saying: “The old rules are over the top... How can a top government official live in a luxury building and pay NT$700 per month? It is unacceptable.”

The rent was to be raised to NT$15,000 per month initially, and a raise of NT$6,000 is the result of “meeting the officials halfway,” so as to compensate for the decrease in their salaries after they switched from the private to the public sector, Ko said.

However, when asked whether ordinary Taipei residents would be allowed to enjoy the same rates applied to top city officials when they rent a public housing unit, Ko said: “No.”

In other developments, questions are being raised about an incongruity between Ko’s remarks about officials’ salaries being too low and a string of austerity measures recently adopted by the city government to cut officials’ benefits.

Under the austerity regime introduced by Ko, payments previously issued to city employees to reimburse their travel expenses been canceled and chauffeurs who used to serve just one city official are called upon to cater to the needs of several.

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