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Taiwan Cabinet approves mergers, upgrades for counties, cities

Changes will mean budget increases for the newly formed regions, says Premier Liu

Taiwan Cabinet approves mergers, upgrades for counties, cities

The Executive Yuan officially approved the mergers and upgrades for four new municipalities at its regular meeting yesterday, while paving the way for administrative simplification further down the line.
On Monday, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan announced he was going to approve the upgrade of Taipei County to a higher status directly under the central government, and the mergers and upgrades of the cities and counties of Taichung, Kaohsiung and Tainan.
All changes except the Tainan merger had been approved by a review panel of academics and officials during a 15-hour marathon session on June 22. There were differences of opinion about Tainan, but Liu approved it because of the area's historic significance.
The changes will lead to increased budgets for the newly formed regions, allowing them to realize more public projects. The changes will take effect on Dec. 25, 2010, Liu said yesterday.
With the inclusion of Northern, Central and Southern Taiwan, the country could be divided into seven major regions which should cooperate, with the new areas bearing the responsibility for helping develop their neighbors, Liu said.
The premier ordered the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Finance to prepare legislative amendments necessary to reform local elections, public debt and the distribution of funds between local governments. Minister without Portfolio Tsai Hsun-hsiung will be in charge of supervising the process, Liu said. The premier also instructed the Cabinet to find ways of increasing aid to Taiwan's east coast and outlying islands to prevent them becoming marginalized. Special measures would also be taken to raise the standards of living of Taiwan's aboriginal population.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party has criticized the changes for threatening to turn the residents of areas that were left out into poorer, second-class citizens.
The number of townships and villages would have to be cut from the present 368 to between 100 and 150, Interior Minister Liao Liou-yi said.