Thu, Apr 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Ko slammed for failure to tap into Cabinet funding

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) came under fire at the Taipei City Council yesterday over the municipality’s lack of progress in obtaining funds set aside by the Cabinet for the “Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program” projects.

Taipei ranks at the bottom among the six special municipalities approved by the Cabinet for central government-funded projects as part of the program, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠) said during a question-and-answer session with the mayor.

The city last month proposed nine public infrastructure projects for finance, “clean” energy, transportation, art and flood retention, but Taipei failed to secure any of the project’s NT$880 billion (US$28.8 billion) budget, Chin said.

Taipei’s proposals included building a water pipeline connecting the Beishih River (北勢溪) and Jhihtan water purification plant, and building a biotechnology park in Nangang District (南港).

The nine projects would have cost about NT$87.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the five other special municipalities have all secured funds, with Taoyuan given NT$226.2 billion and New Taipei City set to receive NT$82.1 billion.

Ko owes Taipei residents an apology, because his failure to secure subsidies sees Taipei excluded from the eight-year project, Chin said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) criticized Ko over his claim in an interview on Monday that he had been “sidelined” by the Cabinet because he knew no “insiders” close to President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration, which he said put Taipei at a disadvantage when soliciting funds compared with municipalities governed by the DPP.

Former Taipei City Government spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) is now Tsai’s secretary; Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) was formerly Ko’s transportation department head; and Minister without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) has a close relationship with Ko, so they are all “insider” contacts that should have helped the city secure subsidies, Wang said.

Taipei’s failure to secure funding was due to Ko’s indifferent attitude toward the Cabinet.

He has attended only two out of 113 Cabinet meetings since assuming office in December 2014, Wang said.

The Cabinet has not yet finalized the distribution of the funds and added that while some of the Taipei’s budget request — such as a plan to build the city’s first north-south rail line connecting Neihu (內湖) and Xinyi (信義) districts — have been rejected, other proposals are still being considered, such as a plan to boost the city’s underdeveloped areas, Ko said.

Ko agreed to secure a meeting with Tsai, after DPP Taipei City Councilor Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) urged the mayor to pay the president a visit to explain Taipei’s need for project funding and said that Ko’s communication with Premier Lin Chuan (林全) had “clearly” been ineffective.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top