The Executive Yuan’s Board of Science and Technology yesterday drew flak from lawmakers who questioned its lack of financial transparency and relevance given the existence of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) is the board’s convener, while Executive Yuan Secretary-General Li Meng-yen (李孟諺) and Minister of Science and Technology Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠) serve as deputy conveners.
The board is tasked with reviewing research proposals tendered by other agencies and can apply for a budget, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Cheng Cheng-chien (鄭正鈐) said during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Among the Executive Yuan’s budget plan for next year, about NT$44.7 billion (US$1.6 billion) is earmarked for the Executive Yuan’s science and technology development fund, an increase of NT$5.7 billion from this year, the ministry’s report showed.
Board secretary-general Andrew Yeh (葉哲良) replied that the board had not used a cent of the fund, which it supervises.
His answer drew flak from lawmakers who remained unconvinced by his answer.
KMT Legislator Wan Mei-ling (萬美玲) cited data indicating that about NT$1.6 billion is earmarked for a program managed by the board.
While the ministry said the fund is typically used to support emergency or vital projects, some of the money was used for the Presidential Hackathon hosted by the National Development Council, Wan said.
The hackathon has been held annually since 2018, she said, questioning the ministry’s claim that the fund was only used for emergency and important projects.
From 2016 to last year, the fund’s implementation rates were only 52.55 percent to 77.51 percent, Wan said.
It is difficult for lawmakers to monitor the board’s spending, as it is often “protected” by ministry officials who help account for the board’s operation at the legislature, KMT Legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said.
While the ministry would be restructured back into a council as it was before March 2014, Lin urged the government to consider whether the board should continue to exist.
Addressing concerns that the functions of the board and the ministry overlap, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Lin Minn-tsong (林敏聰) said the government is working out the problem to achieve better interagency coordination.
The board is not accountable for its spending, so it should be abolished, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) said during a legislative session last month, urging the government to reinstate the system of tech consultants to replace the board.
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