Amid reports of government officials lobbying lawmakers to revise the policy on government restructuring in their favor, Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday called for “concerted efforts” to carry out reform.
“There is logic behind the restructuring plan. The Cabinet’s policy stance is clear. Working as a team in the Cabinet, each and every agency must adhere to this policy. It is neither permissible nor appropriate to seek to have the policy changed by lobbying lawmakers,” Chen told a Cabinet meeting.
The government’s restructuring plan was set under the Organic Act of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) and the Basic Act Governing Central Administrative Agencies Organizations (中央行政機關組織基準法) approved by the legislature in February 2010.
The number of Cabinet-level agencies is to be cut from 37 to 29 through mergers, while the number of central government employees would be capped at 173,000, down from 223,000, and the units of the agencies are to be restructured.
Since last year, 13 agencies have completed their restructuring. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Finance are to be restructured this year, while amendments to organic laws governing the other 13 agencies await legislative approval.
There have been reports of disagreements among the different agencies over the policy. For example, the Coast Guard Administration was said to be behind a move to create a ministry of ocean affairs to replace the current plan to establish an Ocean Affairs Council. Meanwhile, the Council of Agriculture wants to retain the Forestry Bureau, while the planned Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources wants the bureau under its wing. Ministry of the Interior officials have reportedly lobbied lawmakers against the plan to transfer the Construction and Planning Agency to the Ministry of Transportation and Construction.
Meanwhile, the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration issued a statement rebutting media reports that the number of staff in some of the restructured agencies actually increased, instead of decreasing in line with the aim of the restructuring plan.
Since last year, the number of staff at the Executive Yuan and 16 ministries have decreased by 9,386, or about 20 percent, the statement said.
In other news, the Cabinet approved an amendment to the Drug Abuse Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), increasing penalties for the manufacture, transport and sale of prohibited drugs.
Under the amendment, those caught manufacturing, transporting or selling class-three drugs may face up to seven years’ imprisonment, up from five years, while those caught manufacturing, transporting,or selling class four drugs may face five to 12 years in prison, up from the current three to 10 years.