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NT$20 billion to help reduce local development gap

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In an effort to reduce differences between big cities and remote areas, the central government will allocate NT$20 billion in funding to support economic and infrastructure development in remote townships, districts and villages.

The Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) under the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), recently submitted a proposal to the Executive Yuan, and the proposal aims to reduce development gaps between cities and the countryside.

The proposal has reportedly been approved by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺). Starting in 2015, the government will allocate NT$20 billion in funding to help develop between 10 and 15 townships or villages over a four-year span.

A number of problems have emerged from economic gaps between cities and remote areas, such as surging housing prices and higher infrastructure cost in cities, businesses and young people moving out of towns and countries, and inadequate development in remote areas, said the CPA.

The MOI has consulted with various government agencies, including the Council of Agriculture, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to re-adjust budget allocations.

The government initially allocated NT$50 billion in funding dedicated to support various support projects, including village revitalization, culture enhancement, tourism development, business development, career support, economic development in remote areas, etc.

After taking 10 percent of the funding from each project, the government is left with an extra NT$5 billion each year. Starting in 2015, the government plans to provide NT$20 billion to remote townships, cities and districts in the next four years.

The aim is to increase job opportunities and enhance living environments to attract more people to return to their hometowns. The government will review development progress every year, before deciding which areas will receive financial support next year.

This development project will try to create prosperous suburbs that serve as satellite townships, districts or villages.

While the central government provides the funding, local governments will orchestrate development plans in five major fields: industrial support, talent resources, infrastructure construction, capital flow and lifestyle enhancement. Every development project is slated to last four years.

Only townships with a population less than 120,000 and those of a certain distance from major cities may receive the financial support.

The MOI will invite related authorities and businesses to form a cross-department team, charged with the responsibility of reviewing and selecting townships or villages to receive the support. The government is expected to announce its selection by April next year.

The government will provide NT$1.5 million to townships and villages that are interested in applying for this development project, to help them prepare and plan for their applications.

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