Reducing the government subsidy for the Taiwan Association of Retired Firefighters could cause people to die of frustration, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday.
“The association’s mission is not over. It offers the government assistance,” Wu said at a ceremony in New Taipei City marking the association’s fifth anniversary.
“However, the government does not seem to treat firefighters with much respect,” he said.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
The association was founded in 2012 to help the government facilitate rescue missions.
Former minister of the interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) promised to the association a NT$2 million (US$65,830) subsidy every year, but President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration cut the subsidy to NT$280,000, which could cause people to die of frustration, Wu said.
He attributed the cut to the NT$890 billion budget the government has earmarked for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, which he said “lacks vision.”
The Tsai administration terminated the Suhua Highway Improvement Project implemented during his term as premier, leaving people living in the east with “no way to get home,” Wu said, urging Tsai to follow up on the project.
He criticized Tsai for pushing through a railway construction plan accounting for NT$420 billion of the infrastructure program’s budget, even though some experts have advised against it.
The government is prepared to squander a large sum on the project to bribe local governments, Wu said, adding that it was no wonder that it had pushed for an “unfair” pension reform for soldiers, police and firefighters.
“A government that cannot even keep its promise to take care of soldiers, police and firefighters, to help them live in dignity, is one that promotes injustice,” he said.
If Tsai improved her governance, made the economy more robust and bolstered the return on investment on the monthly fees it levied on public servants, pension reform would be unnecessary, he said.
Instead creating a large specialized program, Tsai should have proposed projects individually, following the standard budgeting procedure and starting with work to prevent floods, which is crucial to ensuring people’s safety, Wu said.
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