Thu, Oct 26, 2017 - Page 3 News List

No need to increase Taipei’s debt level next year: Mayor Ko

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said the city government does not need to increase its debt level next year, adding that important administration goals for next year include improving social welfare and drug prevention.

Ko was asked to report on the city government’s administrative plans and proposed budget for next year at the Taipei City Council yesterday afternoon, but was faced with several city councilors boycotting him from making the report.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Kuo Chao-yen (郭昭巖) said she felt offended by Ko’s response of “you are not an expert on this” when she asked questions about the Heart of Neihu Science Park project in a question-and-answer session at the City Council last week.

She said Ko’s remark was disrespectful to city councilors and that Ko is not an expert on issues concerning culture, education or public transportation, as well as other subjects, so he should apologize to the councilors and promise to respect their right to question him.

Several councilors supported her suggestion.

After a boycott of about 30 minutes, Ko apologized to Kuo, saying that he had no ill intentions and that council members had the right to monitor the administration, so he would be humble when facing the council.

During his report, he said the city’s annual revenue next year is expected to total NT$164.85 billion (US$5.45 billion), which is an increase of NT$3.99 billion from this year, while annual expenditure is to reach NT$174.6 billion, an increase of NT$8.87 billion.

The difference between total revenue and expenditure is a shortfall of NT$9.78 billion, Ko said, adding that with a planned NT$10 billion debt repayment, the city government would need to borrow NT$19.78 billion, but that it would be covered by the annual surplus from last year.

The proposed budget for social welfare next year is NT$31.09 billion, an increase of NT$4.72 billion compared with this year, he said, adding that the percentage of the total budget allocated to social welfare would likely increase from year to year because of the aging population.

Ko said the budget would include funds for policies such as vaccinations for children and elderly people, and subsidies for child care and long-term care facilities.

KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇) asked why funds budgeted for several projects were to be carried through until 2022 — with funds for a music and book center extended through 2024 — and asked Ko whether he was sure that he would be re-elected mayor.

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