The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has earmarked NT$73.5 million (US$2.49 million) from next year’s annual budget to purchase a new property for its representative office in Australia.
The ministry has been seeking new properties for its representative offices, and has bought new facilities in Brisbane and Los Angeles, of which it would take possession next year, it said.
The ministry has 109 offices spread across 136 properties worldwide, excluding its offices in Macau and Hong Kong, ministry data showed
However, it rents the majority of the properties. Of the total, only 20, or 17 percent, are owned by the ministry.
Rent for the remaining 116 properties would cost the ministry an estimated NT$892.8 million next year, which does not include housing costs for the officials stationed at the offices, it said.
The Los Angeles property cost the ministry NT$162.62 million and the one in Brisbane cost NT$176.17 million, it said.
Rent costs for representative offices and officials’ accommodations fluctuate along with inflation and annual contract reassessments, and at their peak reached NT$1.3 billion, a source said, adding that a property owner has demanded a rent increase after discovering the property was being rented by officials of a government.
“In cities and countries that are politically important to Taiwan, purchasing [property] is a lot more cost-effective than renting,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said on Saturday.
Taiwan’s relations with countries like the US, Japan and Australia are stable, and purchasing properties in such countries would benefit the long-term development of bilateral ties, he said.
DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) suggested that the ministry use an endowment fund model to manage the budget to purchase properties, by setting aside a fixed amount annually, which could be accumulated until the ministry finds a suitable property.
This would prevent a situation in which the ministry could miss a property sale due to lengthy budget evaluations, he said.
The ministry said that it owns part of the property it uses in Australia.
However, due to space limitations, it has to rent additional offices at the property, it said, adding that it hopes to reduce rent expenses by purchasing a larger space.
It would take budget concerns and Australia’s property market into consideration when making a purchase, the ministry said.
The purchase would not only help the ministry save on rent costs, it would also fulfill the ministry’s property needs in the country and provide better protection for national secrets, it said.
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