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Cabinet denies Miaoli takeover

Money for wages to arrive before end of week: lawmakers

Cabinet denies Miaoli takeover

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The central government on Tuesday denied it was taking over management of Miaoli County’s troubled finances, though it would intervene to help safeguard salaries and basic administrative expenses.
The county faces NT$64.8 billion (US$2 billion) in debt, making it unable to pay staff wages on time and earning comparisons to Greece. A slanging match about responsibility for the mess has erupted between the two most recent Kuomintang politicians to run the county, incumbent Hsu Yao-chang and his predecessor, Liu Cheng-hung.
On Monday, Hsu asked the central government for special aid to help him pay wages for July. The Executive Yuan or Cabinet replied it would help him, but in return for a fiscal reform plan, and not with sums of money.
Two lawmakers held talks with the Ministry of Finance Tuesday and reportedly obtained that it would move NT$800 million (US$25.7 million) to the Miaoli County Government before the end of the week, enabling it to pay this month’s wages. The measure was a form of short-term relief, but basic financial reform in the troubled county would still be necessary in order to prevent the emergency move from becoming a monthly practice, the lawmakers said.
Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said that most local governments in Taiwan faced some level of stringent financial problems, and that the central government could not just transfer funds to local governments without any regard for laws and regulations. Any funding for Miaoli was money that was already earmarked for the county, but for which the timing could be altered legally, the spokesman said.
Asked about Yunlin County soon facing a similar fate, Sun said that not every local government would want the central government to intervene in its financial household.
He said that according to regular reviews by the Ministry of Finance, only the counties of Miaoli and Yilan were exceeding their legal debt limits, but Yilan was not experiencing any problems.
Sun said that when Hsu first mentioned Miaoli’s problems back in April and May, the central government gave him some examples of other counties he might take into account. The models included Tainan City Mayor William Lai cutting subsidies to city councilors and Yilan County Magistrate Lin Tsung-hsien setting a wealth limit on recipients of local pension benefits, Sun said.
Vice President Wu Den-yih came to Liu’s defense Tuesday, saying not all of Miaoli County’s debts could be pinned on him. More than NT$10 billion (US$321 million) of the debt had been incurred before Liu came to office, Wu said.


Updated : 2021-09-22 23:20 GMT+08:00