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Legislature queries bigger national security budget

By Joseph Yeh--The Legislative Yuan's budget center yesterday cast doubt over the National Security Bureau's (NSB) proposal to increase its annual budget for the next fiscal year to recruit special agents despite the lack of missions for the year ahead.

The NSB is asking for a larger budget to recruit four new agents, making the total number of agents 267 even though most government branches are downsizing, the center said.

According to the NSB, these agents will be responsible for the security of incumbent presidents and vice presidents as well as their family members, and the safety of former national leaders.

The number of NSB special agents has seen a steady increase over the past years, from 236 in 2010 to 263 in 2012. The NSB decided to increase the number of agents due to the Presidential Election held in January this year.

The Legislative Yuan's budget center, however, said the NSB will not be responsible for major-scale missions or tasks in the upcoming year so it questions the bureau's decision to add more personnel especially when the government is facing an extreme budget deficit.

The NSB earmarked nearly NT$1.4 million to cover the 267 special agents' insurance premiums, according to the budget center, meaning that the premium for each agent is as high as NT$ 50,000 a year.

The sum is three to four times higher than military personnel responsible for highly dangerous missions in the Armed Forces, the center said.

The Legislative Yuan urged the NSB to cut down the budget for agents' premiums.

Meanwhile, the budget center also found that the bureau has listed NT$1.8 million more in utility fees for 2013 compared to the previous fiscal year.

The center said that the NSB's skyrocketing utility fee exposes its failure to live up to the government's pledge of carbon-reduction.

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