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Taiwan KMT caucus opposes abolition 9 legislative benefits

Taiwan KMT caucus opposes abolition 9 legislative benefits

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The ruling Kuomintang’s legislative caucus on Tuesday refused to abolish all nine subsidies for lawmakers, but agreed to consider limited cuts.
KMT legislator Alex Tsai said he stood by his original proposal to abolish nine types of subsidies which did not have a legal basis, while the opposition called for a realistic approach. The issue has become a symbol for the willingness of politicians to address their own income as citizens face fears over jobs, pensions and the funding of social insurance systems.
Out of 54 KMT legislators present at the caucus meeting, only five agreed with the abolition of the nine subsidies, reports said.
Some lawmakers have accused Tsai of pushing the issue because he was wealthy himself and didn’t need the subsidies, while other legislators without outside income would find it hard to make ends meet once the funding was gone. Tsai’s critics described his proposal as “populist.”
KMT caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng told reporters after the meeting that the group had agreed to do away with a monthly NT$18,000 (US$615) housing subsidy and an annual NT$100,000 (US$3,400) research fee. Opinions were still divided about what to do with funding for the lawmakers’ foreign trips, Wu said.
Before Wednesday evening, the caucus would also discuss how much to cut from spending on gasoline and freeway toll subsidies, he added. He promised the party would also look at funding outside Tsai’s nine proposals, such as a NT$20,000 (US$683) grant per session to buy cell phones.
Wu predicted the total cuts agreed to by his caucus would exceed 20 percent at least.
KMT lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao said the Legislative Yuan should do away with all nine subsidies, but his colleague Wang Chin-shih from Pingtung County in the South said there should be more concern for legislators from his region and from remote areas. Transportation subsidies should not be removed altogether, Wang said.
Other legislators also said that their foreign trips helped Taiwan’s international image and should therefore still be subsidized.
The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party said that lawmakers should be truthful about the expenses they reported to receive compensation.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union linked the subsidies for legislators to the issue of high interests for government employees and other controversial financial benefits. The small opposition party accused Tsai of damaging lawmakers’ reputations, but added that the issue formed an opportunity for reform.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said the nine subsidies had a legal basis in two laws regulating the Legislature’s organization and wages, but Tsai countered that those were completely unrelated. Wang called on the various caucuses to sit down together for talks on the issue Thursday.
The proposals for the cuts were a response to calls from President Ma Ying-jeou for more reform. He was expected the address the issue at Wednesday’s weekly meeting of the Central Standing Committee of the KMT, which he chairs.


Updated : 2021-08-04 08:16 GMT+08:00