Sat, Oct 08, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Control Yuan impeaches former Miaoli official

EXTRAVAGANT:The Miaoli County government spent NT$374 million on fireworks alone for 2012 National Day celebrations, Control Yuan member Liu Te-hsun said

By Lin Liang-sheng, Chang Teng-hsun, Hsu Chan-yi and Jake  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Former Miaoli County commissioner Liu Cheng-hung, center, speaks during a campaign event for then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu in Miaoli on Dec. 12 last year.

Photo: Cheng Hung-ta, Taipei Times

The Control Yuan on Thursday impeached former Miaoli County commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) on charges of severe negligence of duty after Liu’s borrowing allegedly led to the county’s financial crisis and a debt of NT$67.6 billion (US$2.15 billion).

Liu issued a statement through his aides saying that he regrets being impeached, but rests assured that he is innocent, adding that he hopes the Control Yuan can make a more detailed investigation.

Control Yuan Committee members Liu Te-hsun (劉德勳) and Kao Feng-hsien (高鳳仙) cited a National Audit Office Miaoli branch report issued in August for fiscal 2015, which said that the county government’s public deficit reached NT$39.2 billion.

The county’s underfunded liabilities included NT$16.7 billion in loans from the central government’s special Reserved Centrally Funded Tax Revenues (特別統籌分配款), special accounts and foundation funds, as well as NT$11.6 billion in unpaid annual expenses as of fiscal 2013, the report said.

The county’s public short-term debt ratio of 31.55 percent had exceeded the legal debt ceiling by 2006, a year after Liu Cheng-hung became commissioner, Liu Te-hsun said, adding that under such circumstances, Liu Cheng-hung should have been mindful of the county’s expenses.

Liu Te-hsun said that the county spent NT$374 million on fireworks alone for the 2012 National Day celebrations.

The county’s annual expenses increased sharply in 2008 and its debt grew by an average of NT$510 million each year — totaling NT$36.17 billion between 2008 and 2014 — which is the main cause of the county’s financial crisis, Liu Te-hsun said.

The county government violated the Guidelines for the Central Government’s Subsidies for Municipal and County Governments (中央對直轄市及縣市政府補助辦法) by allegedly reporting NT$51 billion in subsidy incomes — of which it had only received NT$27 billion — over eight years in an attempt to create the illusion that it maintained a balanced account, Liu Te-hsun said.

The report said that the county government and its subsidiary organizations were ordered by Liu Cheng-hung to overstate their budgets, adding that despite coming up with three plans to repay its debts after 2011, the county government not only failed to act on them, but also shuffled around funds from special accounts and foundation funds that it oversaw.

Liu Cheng-hung’s decisions during his term in office showed a blatant disregard for his duty as county commissioner, the report said, suggesting that the case be sent to the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission for a ruling.

When asked whether the impeachment would be effective, as Liu Cheng-hung has been retired for two years, Kao said that according to the amended Public Functionary Discipline Act (公務員懲戒法), the commission may rule that Liu Cheng-hung would be banned from public service and cut or entirely suspend his pension, or issue fines.

“We hope the commission would take appropriate punitive measures, as it would serve as a warning for the heads of local governments when they are making budget proposals,” Kao said.

Meanwhile, Liu Cheng-hung said in the statement that the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法) was unable to distribute resources equally.

He was aware of his duty to the public and sought to increase the county’s revenue through construction projects, Liu Cheng-hung said, adding that during his time in office the county government was so short on cash that it was unable to pay its employees.

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