Funds wasted on overseas trips, DPP lawmakers say

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday said they were amazed and shocked by the way government officials squandered public funds by arranging “meaningless” overseas visits and seminars.

Since 2001, the central government has sent 28,904 delegations on overseas visits, an average of eight delegations per day, and has allocated a budget of NT$1.8 billion (US$62 million) to overseas visits in the budget statement for next year, lawmaker Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) told a press conference.

While attending international conferences and inspecting various developments in other countries are necessary, government agencies’ abuse of such trips has been astonishing, Lee said.

The Mainland Affairs Council, the Strait Exchange Foundation and the National Youth Commission all arranged overseas trips for Chinese students in Taiwan to “lessen students’ academic pressure,” Lee said.

Between last year and this year, the Veterans Affairs Commission has sent delegations to travel fairs, which were unrelated to the commission’s mission, while the Sports Affairs Council sent officials to inspect museums in Beijing and Tianjin, China, Lee added.

Officials of state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp submitted reports on a visit to Cambodia which plagiarized from travel agencies’ promotion pamphlets, he said.

The examples signalled a huge waste of government funds, DPP lawmaker Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said.

The central government’s budget allocation for overseas visits between 2009 and this year were NT$1.76 billion, NT$1.76 billion, NT$1.68 billion and NT$1.87 billion respectively, Yao said.

At a separate press conference, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) lambasted the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) for achieving nothing after spending almost NT$5 million on a series of seminars across the country last year.

The only tangible result of those 33 seminars on industrial development, organized during the tenure of former CEPD minister Christina Liu (劉憶如), was a 187-word draft report, Pan said.

“That comes down to about NT$26,410 per word, which is more than the average university graduate’s monthly wage,” Pan said.

The most unbelievable part is the content of the report, which stated that the most competitive industry in Kaohsiung and Pingtung is exquisite agriculture, while tourism is the most competitive sector in eastern Taiwan, DPP lawmaker Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) added.

“Any university student could come up with a better report and I believe their reports would have been longer than 187 words,” Lee said.