Taichung status to be upgraded soon, Chen says

STAFF WRITER

Sat, Sep 15, 2007 - Page 4

Taichung City will be merged with Taichung County by early next year at the latest and upgraded to the status of a special municipality, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

Chen made the remarks in a speech at the International Rotary Club's Taichung branch.

In May, the legislature passed an amendment to the Local Government Act (地方制度法), granting special municipality privileges to counties with a population of more than 2 million.

population

Taichung City is classified as a provincial municipality. The combined population of Taichung City and Taichung County is about 2.5 million.

Over the years, many have called for the area to be upgraded to a special municipality, which would entitle it to a larger budget from the central government.

Special municipalities are the highest level of the three levels of local government. Counties and provincial municipalities constitute the second level, while townships and county municipalities make up the third.

more control

Special municipalities are entitled to larger shares of national tax revenues and enjoy more control over decisions affecting their populations.

Chen echoed the appeal during his presidential election campaign in 2000, promising Taichung residents that Taichung City and Taichung County would be combined to become the nation's third special municipality, after Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Taipei City and Kaohsiung City are special municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan and hold elections on a date separate from other local governments.

Chen said yesterday that the establishment of a municipality in central Taiwan would not only benefit Taichung, but also promote development in the surrounding cities and counties.

Welcoming President Chen's remarks, Taichung Deputy Mayor Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家旗) yesterday said he hoped the plan would not be stalled until after the presidential election in March.