Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers question low rents paid by youth corps

By Chen Yu-fu  /  Staff reporter

The China Youth Corps flag stands outside the Ching-kuo Memorial Hall on the corps’ grounds in Taipei on Oct. 31.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Lawmakers have questioned what they said was unreasonably low rents paid by the China Youth Corps for state-owned land and youth activity centers, calling for the properties’ retrieval once their leases expire.

The corps has been renting 12 youth activity centers nationwide and the Kuan Yun Youth Hostel in Hualien from government agencies and state-run institutions, an investigation by the Executive Yuan’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee has found.

The landlords range from the Ministry of Finance’s National Property Administration (NPA), the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Water Resources Agency and the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau, to the Taipei and New Taipei City governments, state-run Taiwan Water Corp and National Taiwan University.

Most noteworthy is a 6,683m2 plot of land in Hualien County’s Sioulin Township (秀林) leased to the corps by the NPA for NT$163,656 (US$5,424) per year, or NT$6.7 per ping (3.3m2) per month. The land houses the Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center, which is essentially a hostel.

The NPA has also leased 120,599m2 of space at the Kenting Youth Activity Center in Pingtung County, which was built with a subsidy of more than NT$100 million from the Ministry of Education, for an annual rent of NT$6.6 million, or about NT$17.9 per ping per month, the committee has found.

Other properties include a 4,300m2 plot of land that houses the Kuan Yun Youth Hostel, which costs the corps NT$150,350 per year, or NT$6.7 per ping per month; Chiayi County’s Alishan Youth Activity Center, where the rent for a 8,163m2 space is NT$489,780 per year, or NT$16.5 per ping per month; and Nantou’s Sun Moon Lake Youth Activity Center, which sits on a 83,140m2 plot of land that costs NT$8.72 million per year, or NT$28.9 per ping per month.

The committee is trying to ascertain whether the corps, founded by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government in 1952 for anti-communist purposes, should be considered a party affiliate.

“In the early days, the China Youth Corps was granted the privilege of using national resources for free under the pretext of organizing youth activities. It managed to rent state-owned land at low prices afterward, thanks to the lingering influence of the KMT from the party-state period,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) said.

The rent paid by the corps for the Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center is particularly preposterous, given that it is at the Taroko National Park and charges NT$3,300 to NT$4,800 per room per night, Lai said.

“With 65 rooms in total, the corps can earn its yearly rent in one night,” Lai said.

New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said it is unthinkable that the corps can rent a place like the Sun Moon Lake Youth Activity Center for NT$28.9 per ping per month, when other properties in the area cost NT$2,000 per ping.

Hsu said the government should stop granting special favors to the corps and immediately re-evaluate its leases with the organization.

The NPA said the properties are leased according to Article 28 of the National Property Act (國有財產法) and that the annual rents were calculated by multiplying the registered land values by 0.05.

It said it has already canceled a 40 percent discount given to the corps, adding that it will consider whether to renew the leases when they expire.

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