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Policy not affected by scandal: MOI

Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) said yesterday that the administration does not plan to construct more affordable housing complexes in Greater Taipei anytime soon, adding, however, that the recent housing project scandal has not affected the government's housing policies.

 Chen pointed out that the government has multiple policies that are aimed at resolving housing needs, including rent subsidies, interest subsidies, affordable housing and “for-lease-only” social residential complexes; however, “there is currently no land (in Taipei) suitable for affordable housing complexes.”

 Since most of the land that has been obtained is relatively small, it will be used for social residential complexes, instead of affordable housing complexes, Chen said.

 Both affordable housing units and social residential units are reserved for middle and lower-income families. The former are mainly for sale (at about 70 percent of market prices), while the latter are mainly for leasing. The government is responsible for obtaining land and selecting private companies to build these complexes.

 While the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has no further plans to construct affordable housing complexes in the immediate future, it has not excluded the possibility of working with local governments on this endeavor. If county or municipal governments are interested in affordable housing in order to suppress housing prices, or to regulate housing demand and supply, the central government is willing to cooperate and/or provide assistance, Chen said.

 Cabinet spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said recently that the MOI and other related departments have been instructed to review housing needs and policies on an annual basis, and that the government will launch more measures in the future to meet public demand.

Affordable Housing Scandal

 Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) was recently removed as deputy magistrate of Taoyuan County for allegedly accepting a bribe from construction firm Farglory Group, which won a tender for a housing project in Taoyuan. Farglory Group Chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) allegedly paid NT$18 million to Yeh to secure the tender.

 The Construction and Planning Agency, which oversees bidding for affordable housings projects, never discloses information regarding bidding prices or the selection process of private firms. This mechanism gives construction companies the incentive to bribe officials, analysts said.

 Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) was reportedly very distressed and troubled by the latest scandal. The interior minister yesterday called on public servants to abide by the law and follow ethical standards, stressing the importance of maintaining integrity in order to help the government win the public's trust.

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