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Charity embroiled in Tainan school land rental subsidy controversy

Charity embroiled in Tainan school land rental subsidy controversy

Taipei, March 18 (CNA) The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation has sparked fresh controversy over accepting monetary subsidies from the Tainan city government for rental payments for land that was used to set up a school in the southern city's Anping District. It was reported that the city government has provided NT$8 million (US$253.67 million) per year to a high school affiliated with Tzu Chi for land rental payments over the past eight years since the school's establishment. Commenting on the subsidies, Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te (???) explained Wednesday the local government's policy regarding the school's establishment. Lai said that since Anping had an acute need for a new school in 2001 due to an increase in the district's population, then- Tainan Mayor Chang Tsan-hung (???) invited Tzu Chi to set up a school there in return for financial support. The city council subsequently passed regulations on autonomous regions to ensure that the city government's stance and policy on the school's establishment would not change due to changing mayors. The school has senior high, junior high and elementary departments and its annual expenditures are around NT$200 million, while its revenues are about NT$90 million, leading to a deficit of more than NT$100 million. Therefore, it is reasonable that the city government should continue to fulfill the contract Chang signed with Tzu Chi. As for other private schools' requests for rental subsidies, Lai said the Tzu Chi-affiliated school was established at the request of the city government, while other private schools were set up by their private owners. Therefore, Tzu Chi's case is different from the others, Lai noted, adding that if private schools encounter difficulty in their operations, the city government is willing to provide only administrative support. Zen Yao-song, the school's principal, also denied that the city government is particularly generous toward Tzu Chi, saying that the charity has contributed more than the city government. (By Chang Jung-hsiang and Evelyn Kao)


Updated : 2021-09-17 15:42 GMT+08:00