Taipei government accused of fund misallocation

Taipei government accused of fund misallocation
Mayor Ko Wen-je

A lawmaker yesterday criticised the Taipei City Government's decision to allocate the city's disaster relief funds to renovate municipal office space.

Kuomintang Taipei City Councilor Wang Hong-wei said the city government allocated approximately NT$40 million (S$1.6 million) of secondary budget reserves toward office renovation, funds that emergency disaster relief fall under.

In comments to the press yesterday, Wang said that Mayor Ko Wen-je's report on usage of budget reserves contained a "Constructing a Taipei Design Workstation" plan that totaled NT$40 million.

She revealed that the said Design Workstation was located on a joint development in proximity to the Nanjing Fuxing MRT station, a prime real estate area in Taipei.

The purported purpose for the Workstation includes intelligent city design and an urban renewal promotion centre, as well as residential and office space.

"Is it because of the Department of Urban Development Commissioner Lin Jou-min's recent popularity that this city is giving him office space in such a prime area?" asked Wang.

The city government's Department of Urban Development (DUD) responded to Wang's criticisms, saying that the building at the intersection of Nanjing East Road and Liaoning Avenue was redistributed as city property following a 2014 joint development project.

The DUD stated that after evaluation, the city government decided to "revitalise utilization of city property" instead of keeping the property dormant in the city's coffers.

Wang questioned the city's actions to allocate emergency funds without taking into consideration the upcoming typhoon season and potential anti-flood prevention work.

Currently, the city's allocated budget for emergency relief is NT$1 billion.

On Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Charles Lin indicated that phase one of the renovation of government offices at Taipei City Hall would include a 30- to 40-per cent reduction in office space area - with Ko and three other deputy mayors taking the lead.

Lin added that a few top officials also gave up individual office bathrooms and rest areas.

Allocations Aimed at Sea Sand House Problem: City Government

The division head of the DUD, Lo Wen-ming, indicated that the planned Taipei Design Workstation would be a joint platform combining both public and private bodies, and thus would not be a strictly government organ.

The DUD also added that the city was acting in accordance with Article 70 of the Budget Act in which "additional plans and allocations are required in response to a sudden political event."

It cited the prevalence of sea sand house properties in the Nanmen Market area and the need to allocate space for road pipelines as problems the funds would target.

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