Cabinet should take back seat in disaster prevention: president
By Adam Tyrsett Kuo, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that local governments are responsible for disaster prevention whereas the central government is responsible for providing support.
September 5, 2013, 12:31 am TWN
Ma made the comment during the Kuomintang's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, in which Deputy Economics Minister Francis Liang (梁國新) and Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) gave their reports on the recent damage brought by tropical storms.
Damage brought on by heavy rainfall far outweighs damage brought on by strong winds in Taiwan, the president explained.
With regard to disaster prevention, Ma said, “It would be impossible for the central government to take care of each and every region. As a rule of thumb, local governments are responsible. However, when local governments are faced with limited resources, the central government is responsible for providing aid.”
Whenever a typhoon or tropical storm approaches Taiwan, central government officials conduct videoconferences from the Central Emergency Operation Center with local government officials to make sure that cities and counties have made sufficient preparations and to find out if they need any help, the president said.
Armed forces stationed nationwide are also on standby should the local governments require help, Ma added.
It is not a question of funds, but a question of whether local governments are alert enough, the president said, stressing that a comprehensive system for disaster prevention and relief is already in place.
There have been improvements since the eight-year NT$80 billion flood prevention budget was allocated, judging from the extent of floods seen across the island over the past few years, Ma said.
However, a thorough reassessment is necessary to determine the actual efficacy of these projects and funds, the president said.
Hopefully all levels of government can fully cooperate on flood prevention, Ma said, adding that the administration will assess the efficacy of related funds over three months.
“We need to make sure that the money is spent properly,” the president stressed.
According to the Interior Ministry's report, local governments are not placing a heavy enough emphasis on storm drains, judging from the amount of money spent, Ma said, adding that the ministry should play a greater supervisory role in this regard.
Citing the decreasing number of drunk driving-related deaths, the president said that when the heads of local governments begin to place an emphasis on an issue, there tends to be tangible results.