‘Tasteless’ ad highlights north-south divide: DPP

SPOTLIGHT::DPP lawmakers seized the chance given by a controversial Taipei government ad to call attention to bills they say would make government funding fairer

By Chris Wang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter and Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 - Page 3

An “arrogant and tasteless” newspaper advertisement put out by the Taipei City Government was a bullying message to other cities and explained why a law regulating local revenues should be on the top of the legislative agenda, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

The main advertisement message of “Sorry, we’re just that attractive” was “no different than bullying,” DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said about the advertisement highlighting Taipei’s rich social welfare resources over those of the other four special municipalities of Greater Kaohsiung, New Taipei City (新北市), Greater Taichung and Greater Tainan.

The ad has been seen by some as Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) flaunting the city’s wealth and verbally bullying residents in the other four cities, he said.

It actually raised a deeper issue: the persistence of seriously imbalanced development between northern and southern Taiwan as well as the unfair allocation of government revenues, and reminded people why Taipei has been able to enjoy greater resources and funds than other cities, Lee said.

The “insensible” advertisement also explains why the DPP caucus has listed three bills — the Public Debt Act (公共債務法), the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法) and the Administrative Zoning Act (行政區劃法) — as priorities in the upcoming extra legislative session, he said.

The three bills, if passed, would improve local finances through a fairer distribution of the Tax Redistribution Fund (統籌分配款), but have been sitting idle in the legislature for over a year-and-a-half after the four cities were promoted to special municipalities in 2010, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said.

“With insufficient funds from the central government and no autonomous power to impose taxes, local governments could only sit there and wait for bankruptcy,” she said.

DPP lawmaker Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said it was time to promote balanced regional development and local financial independence by amending the law.

“Under the current allocation scheme, Taipei will always be at the top of the class while the other special municipalities come second, third and fourth, and the remaining cities and counties lag far behind,” Wu said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have both said the bills were unlikely to make it onto the legislative agenda, given their complexity.

The city’s Department of Information and Tourism, which paid for the ad promoting the raising of rental subsidies, came under criticism by netizens for being “too arrogant.”

In response, Hau said that the cost of living and housing prices in Taipei differed from those in other cities and the city government’s decision to raise housing subsidies was appropriate, as it would help young people or disadvantaged families in the city.

While inspecting the future site of the Hsiang Shan MRT Station on the MRT metro line being constructed through Xinyi District (信義), Hau said the rise in rental subsidies was in accordance with the needs of Taipei.

It is an appropriate move that takes into account the housing situation across the city, Hau said.