Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taipei deputy mayor pans New Taipei City over debts

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun, who has announced his intention to run for New Taipei City mayor, speaks to the media in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) yesterday criticized the New Taipei City Government for raising the city’s debt burden over the past four years.

Chen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, has announced that he will seek his party’s nomination as New Taipei City mayoral candidate in next year’s local elections.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Chen said New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) should take most of the blame for the city’s increasing debt burden.

Citing last year’s data from the National Audit Office, Chen wrote that New Taipei City’s debt increased by more than NT$56.4 billion (US$18.7 billion) in four years, or by 84.9 percent, the highest in the nation.

“During the two years I worked at the Taipei City Government, I have seen Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) being industrious and frugal at his duty and repaid debt of up to NT$39 billion for the city residents,” he wrote. “Being industrious and frugal are important principles of the Ko government, and an important lesson I learned.”

Chen said if he is elected New Taipei City mayor, he would make “incurring zero debt for the annual budget” an important administrative goal.

New Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) yesterday said “it is not surprising that Chen does not understand the difficulty for New Taipei City to cut costs, increase profits and put its house in order while making developments.”

While Taipei has been a municipality for 50 years, New Taipei City has been a municipality only for less than seven years, so there are many ongoing public construction projects, which are reflected in the budget, Chang said, adding that if the city were to avoid incurring debt for construction projects, it would have to increase tax rates or reduce welfare payments.

Citing official data, Chang said centrally funded tax revenue and subsidies allocated to New Taipei City, which has a population of nearly 4 million, is only about NT$9,600 per capita, while it is about NT$19,300 per capita for Taipei and NT$15,300 per capita for Kaohsiung.

He urged the central government to amend the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法) to allow fair allocation of resources to local governments.

“Many counties and cities in Taiwan must incur debts to pay for development, so do not think that everyone is as lucky as Taipei,” Chang added.

New Taipei City Government deputy spokesman Ye Yuan-zhi (葉元之) on Facebook wrote that Chen is not aware of the limited resources other local governments have, and that his criticism is like “an older brother who has inherited a house and mocks his younger brother for having mortgage loans.”

Chen yesterday said that the New Taipei City government is likely to leave a huge debt for future generations, which is a serious problem that needs to be reviewed.

Compared with Taoyuan, there seems to have been very limited development in New Taipei City in the past few years, he added.

“I do not mean to say you cannot incur debt for public construction projects, but you have to let people see what you have accomplished,” Chen said. “Money should be spent where it counts, in the direction of cutting costs and increasing profits.”

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