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China Times: Do lawmakers have face to go on receiving subsides?

China Times: Do lawmakers have face to go on receiving subsides?

Opposition legislators have lashed out at the high pay and generous fringe benefits afforded to civil servants, a move that has led to cuts in year-end bonuses for most retired civil servants. The ploy, however, has backfired and is now engulfing the legislature. The public has only now noticed that legislators enjoy nine different subsidies that lack any legal foundation but cost taxpayers over NT$1.72 million (US$59,000) per lawmaker per year, after Legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan of the ruling Kuomintang proposed scrapping them amid the economic downturn. Only a few legislators have responded to Tsai's call, however, and none from those opposition lawmakers who have so sternly attacked the civil servants. Tsai's proposal might not be fair to those who take their job seriously, but we think lawmakers need to know several things. First, if lawmakers claim that no money should be appropriated without legal foundation, then the principle should apply to them, too. Secondly, legislators are broadly speaking civil servants who enjoy the same treatment as other civil servants, such as preferential interest rates for their deposits and educational subsidies for their children. Thirdly, in the old days, legislators' spending was limited, but after the complete revamping of the Legislature in the early 1990s, lawmakers' expenditures have ballooned, and they now receive all sorts of subsidies under a variety of names.
For example, accommodation subsides are given to legislators, whether they live in central, southern or northern Taiwan. Those who live in central and southern Taiwan also enjoy daily travel subsidies.
Lawmakers can veto budget, bills and major policies, and they indeed should enjoy higher social status and be accorded better treatment. Regrettably, however, the Legislature has in recent years been more keen on incessant bickering instead of hunkering down to the more serious tasks at hand. No wonder the public's anger has continued to simmer. We think Tsai's proposal is a chance to rebuild the image of the Legislature. Irrespective of party affiliation, lawmakers should hold themselves to a higher standard. (Oct. 29, 2012) (By Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-06-23 14:16 GMT+08:00