Monday, September 4, 2017

OCAC says budget classified to safeguard nation

OCAC logo from Wikipedia

The Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) yesterday defended its decision to designate more than NT$116.2 million (US$3.86 million) of its fiscal 2018 budget as classified, saying the decision was taken to safeguard national interests in the face of diplomatic difficulties.

According to a budget proposal sent to the legislature for review, the council has classified NT$116.2 million of its budget, earmarked for schools and private business run by overseas communities.

The decision was criticized by some who accused the council of seeking to avoid legislative oversight of how the government uses taxpayers’ money.

In response, the council said in a statement yesterday that the change was proposed and approved by a bipartisan vote in the legislature earlier this year.

Although the council is not officially responsible for diplomatic work, officials said it plays an important role in promoting “public diplomacy” around the world.

As such, its funding plays an important role in safeguarding national security and interests.

Although elements of the council’s budget will not be made public, lawmakers will still be able to review its operations, it added.

According to local media reports, the council has always been reluctant to publicize its disbursement of funds to overseas communities.

Many overseas compatriot groups have repeatedly told the council not to publicize the funding they receive because working for the Taiwanese government makes them a target for Beijing.

Established in 1932, when the Republic of China government was still based in China, the council’s objective is to facilitate cultural, educational, economic and informational exchanges between Taiwan and overseas compatriot communities.

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