Mon, Feb 20, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Government agency heads cautioned over comments

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Heads of government agencies should not make casual comments on policies that are not finalized to avoid misunderstandings or unnecessary conflict, the Executive Yuan said on Saturday.

The Executive Yuan held an inter-agency “workshop” to form a common understanding among top officials on government administration, with 79 ministers and deputy ministers attending.

The workshop, the first following a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month, reviewed the government’s performance so far this year and to discuss topics ranging from government organization to policy formation and execution, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said.

“The workshop is like a timeout called during a sports event so the coach can make adjustments to the team,” Lin said.

Ministers and deputy ministers have to be able to elaborate on government policies clearly and avoid making comments on policies that are not finalized, as well as avoiding controversial topics on which the government has not issued a formal opinion, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) quoted Lin as saying.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Hua Ching-chun’s (花敬群) announcement that a home inspection was required for all sales of buildings more than 30 years old was an example of commenting on an unconfirmed policy, Hsu said.

Before announcing a policy, a ministry has to align its presentation with other agencies, he said, adding that random comments on a draft policy should be avoided.

For example, the Ministry of Finance is reviewing a plan to reform the tax system and a formal announcement is not to be made until it arrives at a definite conclusion to avoid criticism that the government has flip-flopped, Hsu said.

Ministers have to maintain good communication with lawmakers and the media to improve policy execution and public understanding, he said.

Officials were instructed on how to assess public opinion and communicate with interest groups when formulating policies, Hsu said, adding that communication should not be a mere formality, but should be an essential part of policy formation.

To prevent inter-agency discrepancies, a ministry should not look at an issue solely from its perspective, as “departmentalism” could impede government administration as a whole, Lin said.

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