Tue, Sep 27, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Committee rejects KMT’s request that assets be unfreezed amid salary crisis

By Chen Wei-han, Yang Chun-hui and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee yesterday rejected the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) request to unfreeze assets to pay party employees’ salaries, urging the party to restructure itself to balance its books with legal funds.

The committee on Wednesday last week froze NT$460 million (US$14.63 million) of KMT assets at Bank of Taiwan. With access blocked to its accounts at Bank SinoPac and checks from its Bank of Taiwan accounts frozen, the KMT has postponed payment of this month’s salaries.

Sources in the party said KMT Administration and Management Committee director Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) and deputy director Lee Fu-chuan’s (李福軒) on Thursday last week met with Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee Chairman Wellington Koo (顧立雄) to inquire about the salary issue, but the two sides did not reach any conclusion.

Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee spokeswoman Shih Chin-fang (施錦芳) yesterday confirmed a visit by Chu, who asked that it temporarily lift a freeze on the party’s accounts and checks to pay for employees’ salaries.

Shih said the KMT is legally required to pay its employees, but the payment can only be made with legal income.

The KMT’s expenses this year have far exceeded its legal income, so the party must be restructured to be able to support itself, she added.

To maintain KMT employees’ livelihoods, the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee might expedite the unfreezing of assets if the KMT presents a downsizing plan, she said, adding that a workable restructuring plan should include measures such as downsizing staff and reforming the 18 percent preferential savings interest rate paid to retired employees.

The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee would not allow the KMT to access the frozen assets and propose a downsizing plan months afterward, she said.

“Since its foundation, the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee has tried to form a negotiation platform with the KMT, and it is willing to assist the KMT with reorganization,” she said. “The KMT has been reorganizing for more than 10 years, but has never fully committed to the process. The KMT should make up its mind and speed up the reorganization, while taking it as an opportunity to reinvent itself.”

According to party sources, KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has expressed an unwillingness to apply to the committee for access to funds, saying that doing so would be tantamount to “surrender,” and instead intends to engage the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in protest.

However, other KMT officials, such as Legislator Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), have said it would be better to first work with the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee to solve the salary crisis.

On Sunday, Wang said he has been approached by the DPP to discuss matters related to the handling of KMT funds, but added that no agreements have been reached regarding the frozen accounts.

The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee’s most recent measures are too extreme, Wang said, adding that such an approach would only deepen the rift between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.

“I am afraid this rift will be hard to overcome in the future. I am trying to better understand the situation and I hope there is some room left to maneuver,” Wang said.

Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng and Chiu Yan-ling

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