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Ma instructs KMT to reform legislative allowance

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also acts as Kuomintang (KMT) chairman, yesterday instructed his party's Policy Committee (政策委員會) to formulate a reform guideline for legislative allowances, so that the public can better understand the KMT's determination to implement reform and how it plans to do so, according to local reports.

Ma also asked KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) to communicate with the party's legislative caucus and come up with a comprehensive plan.

According to party members, Ma said that if current allowances do not have a legal basis, the Legislature should reassess the suitability of the allowances, decide whether or not to amend related regulations and determine a reasonable standard.

Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑), director of KMT's Culture and Communications Committee (文傳會), said that Ma is deeply concerned with the issue, and highly approves of the lawmakers who proposed a review of the allowances.

According to local reports, Ma also stressed that the ruling party has recently initiated many reform policies, such as the luxury tax, real estate transaction transparency, income taxes for military personnel and public school teachers and a review of bonuses for retired public sector workers.

Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), president of the Legislative Yuan, yesterday invited members of the ruling and opposition parties to discuss the suitability of the allowances.

The KMT's legislative caucus supports the elimination of two allowances, namely for accommodation and for research, which accounts to NT$316,000 annually for each lawmaker, said party whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇).

The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) legislative caucus, on the other hand, does not agree with the KMT's proposal, but is willing to reassess the suitability of administrative allowances, which translates to a monthly amount of NT$14,672 per lawmaker, according to local reports.

“If the Legislative Yuan was based in Kaohsiung,” questioned DPP Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑), “would KMT lawmaker Tsai Cheng-yuan (蔡正元), whose constituency includes the districts of Neihu (內湖) and Nangang (南港) in Taipei, have proposed the elimination of legislative allowances?”

Legislators are currently reimbursed for travel.

Wang explained yesterday that budgetary bills approved by the Legislature are considered as laws of measure (措施性法律); therefore, according to judicial interpretation, there is no question with regard to the allowances' legality.

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