地方自治探新路

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1993 / 11月

文‧李光真 圖‧張良綱


台北縣教育局長曾經鬧雙包;宜蘭縣電影院不放國歌;許多獲得經濟部獎勵的大投資案,到地方設廠卻被轟了出來……。你可知道這種種現象都和什麼有關?答案是地方自治。

在行政院連內閣的全方位施政項目中,加速地方自治是施政重點之一。目前由行政院草擬,已送請立法院審議的「省縣自治法」和「直轄市自治法」,會成為一個轉變契機嗎?


隨著冬天的腳步靠近,縣市長選戰即將開鑼。這次參選情況可用「爆炸」形容,廿一個縣市長,有至少上百位候選人有意角逐,不少現任縣市長的訴求更吸引了全國的目光:新竹市打算以千億預算建設「文化科學都會城」、宜蘭縣強調人文觀光與本土認同、台中市一心希望與北高兩市鼎足而立……。

種種訴求的背後,都在強調要爭取地方在人事、經費、職權上的自主,以及發展地方本身的特色。

然而,比起中央級民意機構選舉的熱潮,地方選舉似乎「矮了一截」。有一種說法是:同樣是人才,在中央服務會被視為「為國棟樑、施展長才」,到地方則被稱為「埋沒」。

一樣為民服務,為什麼有「高下」之分?

「沒人、沒錢、沒權,再好的雄心壯志、愛鄉愛土,都會被『磨』掉」,一位卸任縣長如今安坐在中央政府的首長辦公室裡,形容從前的日子是「整日奔波,晚上卻常常因挫折和無力感而睡不著覺!」

多年媳婦熬出頭?!

還政於民、地方自治,是政府多年來努力的方向,為什麼還會產生這樣的埋怨?

「名不正、言不順,沒有法制基礎,是最大原因」,曾任台南縣長、內政部次長、省民政廳長、省議會議長等職務的立法委員高育仁點出問題所在。

翻開「國父思想」,上面清楚寫著「地方自治,國之礎石」、「地方與中央均權」。憲法也規定,立法院通過「省縣自治通則」後,各省縣就可以依據通則,召開省民、縣民代表大會,制定有「省憲」「縣憲」地位、符合當地需要而設計的自治法。

這種構想,放在大中國卅六省的架構下來看相當合理,可以使我國在以一個中央政府為主的單一國家形態下,仍能兼顧各地不同的歷史文化、經濟環境、自然生態等,因地制宜。同時經由地方選舉等過程,也可以將民主的訓練和素養深植鄉間。

但民國卅八年政府播遷來台後,原已在立法院中審議的「省縣自治通則」,卻因為進入戒嚴時期,主客觀情勢改變,因而「凍結」起來。這一拖四十餘年,地方自治雖然如期實施,依據的卻僅是薄薄的一紙行政命令(「台灣省各縣市實施地方自治綱要」),而省級自治,則連這樣低層次的法源都付之闕如。

缺乏正式的法律依據,難免使各級政府權責不清,爭議迭起;這些爭議,在戒嚴時期,中央各機關往往用行政命令來解釋、規範,下級單位根本無從置喙。

為了突破目前地方自治「名不正,言不順」的尷尬瓶頸,行政院內政部依據去年第二屆國民大會修憲後的決議,於今年四月將「省縣自治法」送入立法院審議,希望藉法制化來為地方自治「正名」。

施政班底誰決定?

「法制化」只是程序,但由於和地方自治相關的法規命令多達六十四種,由不同的機關主管、發布,在未能全盤修訂前,要論斷新的法案是否有助於化解各級政府權限爭議,恐怕還言之過早。

人、錢、權,正是一切爭議的焦點。

「地方自治的理念,就是用地方的人和錢,依地方民意,來處理地方事務」,政大公共行政系教授薄慶玖指出。但首先碰到的矛盾,是地方首長名義上要為施政成敗負責,偏偏連自己身邊的班底都無法選擇。

從人事任免權來看,以台灣省政府為例,目前省長官派,各廳長處長的任免也須報請行政院核定,「省」基本上只是中央政府在北、高兩市以外的政策執行代理人,自治權限自然大打折扣。

所幸「省縣自治法」已注意到這個問題。內政部表示,省長民選已是大勢所趨,只要「省縣自治法」完成立法後,很快就可開辦;屆時省府廳處長的任命,省長將有更大的自主權。不僅如此,自治法中還添加了兩名副省長名額,一名和省長同進退,一名為常任文官,可以替省長分勞解憂。

然而,「既然有位副省長是要和省長同進退,照理說就該由省長自己選定,報請省議會通過就可以。但新的自治法草案中規定要報到行政院核准,再由總統任命,等於還是把『省』可以自主的事抓著不放」,曾任桃園縣長、省民政廳長的監察委員許新枝表示,這種討價還價式的授權方式,終究美中不足。

「省」的人事自主權無法由省來主導;同樣的,縣市的人事自主權則大部分被省府掌控。

心事誰人知

目前同是縣市政府轄下的主管,又分為縣長可以調動監督的,和縣長「動不得也管不著」的。譬如教育局長、財政局長、警察局長、稅捐稽徵處長、縣府主計、人事室主任,甚至縣內的國中小學校長、督學等,都是由省政府直接任命下來的。

「早年這些人員的來來去去,縣市長根本無權過問」,許新枝透露,廿年前他擔任桃園縣長的時候,同學兼好友的財政局長被省府調走了,他還是看報紙才知道的。

在宜蘭縣長任內政績令人矚目的現任立法委員陳定南也表示,七、八年前,別說一級主管,就連縣府無關緊要的五職等小科員,都要向省府人事處備查後才能進用。好在經過多年爭取,目前情況稍好,八職等以下的不必再報請省府核准;而關乎縣市長施政成敗的一級主管,縣長若不同意省府派來的人,至少有討價還價的餘地;強勢一點的縣市長,還可以自行推薦人選,再請省府派令任用。

即使如此,人事任免權不夠完整,難免使地方首長會有處處掣肘、無法發揮之感。

不久前,台北縣長尤清有意延請師大教授林玉體擔任教育局長,省政府以其不符聘用資格駁回,另行派人,而鬧了雙胞,雙方曾一度關係緊張。

由於人事任免權是縣市長最「介意」的,此次落實地方自治方案中,內政部有意將縣長的人事任免權大幅擴大,除了人事室主任、主計人員及警政單位是由法律明訂,屬於特殊「一條鞭」式系統,不能輕易更動外,其他都將修改原來的行政命令,並「充分尊重」縣長的選擇。雖然這離陳定南的「縣內閣」理想——所有一級主管都和縣長同進退,不必省府核准、也不受公務員任用資格限制,視同政務官——還有一段距離,但至少已有改善。

中央地方,人才脫節

除了縣長的人事任免權之爭關乎地方自治成敗外,地方與中央人事職等不均,也使地方公務員自認淪為「二等官員」,位微言輕,士氣大受影響。

表面上來看,公務員都要經過考試,沒有中央和地方之分。但錄取後如何分發,就關係到一生的仕途——到縣市政府任職,除了主任秘書外,最高只能做到九職等,相當於中央部會的一個小科長;除非人口超過一百五十萬的台北縣(實際人口三百一十九萬,比台北市多四十萬),才有縣府一級主管都算簡任官的「優惠」。

南投縣主任秘書賴文吉就深有所感。他說,南投縣府中有公務員五百人,只有他一位簡任官,而中央一個四、五百人的部會,簡任級的司長處長參事比比皆是,「人才何必蹲在地方發霉?」無怪乎高考錄取者,想盡各種門道要到中央單位任職;而中央官員最怕的,則是外調地方單位,升遷機會大減。

地方人事問題,紛擾已久,最近終於露出一線曙光。曾任省府主席的考試院長邱創煥日前表示,考試院正在研擬提高地方公務員的職等比敘基準。影響所及,預估有七萬名地方公務員可以升等,對留住地方人才、加強中央及地方人才交流,都將有很大助益。

和「人」有關的,還有地方政府組織編制的問題。

現在的縣市政府編制,是以人口多寡及經濟發展情形來核定,但往往不能因地制宜,卻又不准地方自己彈性調整。譬如人口達五十四萬人的台北縣板橋市,因為屬於縣轄市,編制上和任何一個三千人的鄉鎮一樣,都只有一個衛生所;而人口不過卅六萬的基隆市,卻因為是省轄市,可以有七個衛生所編制。高育仁直斥這種不合理現象:「民眾不會管你是省轄市還是縣轄市,他們只在意自己能不能得到最便捷的服務!」

「清牛屎的吃不到牛肉」?!

「人」的問題不小,「錢」的問題更令人傷腦筋,有人形容為「中央錦衣食,地方沿街乞」。

薄慶玖指出,目前的財稅劃分法,將稅收分為國稅、省稅和縣市稅。縣市稅多屬財產稅,譬如地價稅、土地增值稅(農地買賣不課徵)、房屋稅等等,比起國稅中的所得稅、貨物稅、關稅等,可以隨著經濟發展、國民所得提高而增加,縣市稅就相對地成長偏低。

而在縣市長聯席會議中,多位縣市長也提出,希望未來能將所得稅撥一成給地方,一成給省;尤其工廠所在地的縣市,每天替工廠清垃圾,卻連工廠的營業稅、貨物稅都分不到,是標準的「清牛屎的吃不到牛肉」,也令地方不平。但財政劃分,牽涉到財政部擬定的「財稅收入劃分法」,要修法又要再費一番周折。

根據統計,目前台灣半數以上縣市地瘠人窮,當地課得的所有稅收(包括國稅、省稅、地方稅)加起來,還不夠負擔各項開支;其中不少縣市,更連自己名下的公務員薪水,都要仰賴外援,實已無「自給自足,自治自理」的功能。

中央給錢,地方亂花?

地方缺錢,中央有時還要增加地方負擔。

譬如中央規定,各縣市公共設施保留用地要先行徵收,然而以苗栗縣來說,徵收費用為一百廿八億元,除去各種補助,縣政府還要自負卅億元,這筆巨款從何而來?最後只有向省屬行庫借貸十五億,沉重本利使得地方財政急遽惡化;另一方面,拆了民房才徵收來的土地,又因為沒錢建設,只好廢置在那裡,民怨頻生,縣府不知如何回應。

為了解決縣市貧富懸殊問題,目前省府有「稅收統籌分配款」制度。對於經濟不振、人口外流的縣市來說,分配款當然是最佳的設計;但分配補助不是有求必應,有時地方覺得非常重要的開支項目,上級並不同意,有時雖給錢卻分項指定用途,種種限制,常使地方難以統籌發揮。

例如,日前教育部在李總統指示下,列了四十億專款,專門補助國中小學興建廁所,導致許多學校教室破落、百廢待興,卻空有豪華廁所,相當可惜。

由於補助款是上級撥下,地方政府難免有「不拿白不拿」的心態,又由於上級偏好的補助項目多是硬體建設,絕大部分的縣市長也就把心力放在立即可見成果的造橋鋪路上,真正有特色的生態環境及人文規劃,反倒成為冷門項目。

主席公文,效力有限?

另一方面,薄慶玖指出,地方政府習慣伸手要錢,卻不肯花心思自闢財源。譬如原本可由地方自行開徵的工程受益費,在民國七十六年取消徵收下限後,許多縣市為討好選民,紛紛停徵。如此一來,只有使財政更惡化。

缺錢缺人,已經使地方自治無從發揮,加上權限上的限制,地方政府可供揮灑的空間就更有限了。

許新枝指出,目前自治區域內的法規在當地議會通過後,還要送交上級機關備查,如果上級認定這個決議和它所發布的任何法令(包括正式立法的法律及各行政機關發布的種種命令)有所抵觸或逾越,就可以宣佈無效。

許新枝認為,既然要尊重地方民意,地方議會的決議,除非有和正式法律抵觸,否則不應干預。再說,抵觸與否,往往各說各話,為求公平,先進國家都是請司法院或法院來仲裁,而我國卻是由上級機關判定,「當事人兼裁判」,自然不妥。可惜新的自治法草案中卻未做修正。

省民政廳長謝金汀舉例,行政院連戰院長在省府主席任內,為了體恤農民,實現「富麗農村」理想,數次希望中央能同意提高稻穀收購價格,增加收購量,但卻被中央打了回票。直到連主席轉任為行政院長,稻穀收購問題才終於獲得改善。

省受中央掌控,縣市同樣受省府掌控。多次召開台灣各縣市長聯繫會報,討論如何強化地方自治的台中市長林柏榕,對於直到目前,縣市政府連買輛公務車、或是縣府人員出國考察開會,都要報省府核備,覺得不解又不平。

「偷跑」奏效,請示遭殃?

林柏榕進一步指出,由於縣市長自主權限到底有多大,始終沒有明文規定,而許多時候,「縣府想做的事報到省府,今年請示,得到的答覆,和去年又不一樣;准或不准,有時居然決定於承辦員的自由心證和私人交情。」

看準了這點,林柏榕再次當上市長後,遇到法無明文規定不准地方做的,他就乾脆自己作主,不再事事報備。譬如台中市在三年多前就開辦失業救濟金制度,靠的是「自治綱要」上所規定「縣慈善公益事業及社會救助」是縣自治事項。辦來成效不錯,此次還被勞委會請去諮詢。

「當然,我們能辦,是因為台中市自己的稅收夠負擔,不必向省府伸手;但那時候如果不敢決定,要請示省府,恐怕還是辦不成」,林柏榕話中難掩得意之情。

在歷次民意調查中,民眾滿意度總是名列前茅的新竹市長童勝男,擅長以完善的企劃書向上級爭取經費。市府秘書室主任林松指出,童勝男以「兩個月一座」的目標興建公園,以「一年一校」的目標興建學校,並預計將國小每班的最高學生數限定為四十人,「中央訂的標準是四十八人,但地方有能力,超越中央又何妨!」林松強調。

屏東縣的蘇貞昌縣長,則在教育部尚未開放雙語教學時就「偷跑」,並兼顧屏東縣內的不同族群,以閩南語、客家、魯凱、排灣四語並行,獲得頗多迴響。

許多縣市長都不否認,「愛拚才會贏」,尤其在選民心目中,越是抗爭激烈的縣市長,越顯得勇於任事、企圖心強。宜蘭縣「陳定南效應」所及,早年縣市長常有的「沒錢沒權,樂得清閒」消極心態,目前已無法滿足選民。

人民就是最好的監督

「事在人為」,一位省府官員冷眼旁觀:「很多縣市根本沒被用心經營過,因此只要來了一位有心人,全縣要在四年內改頭換面,未必那麼困難。」他認為現在中央已體認到授權與落實地方自治的重要性,對真正想做事的縣市長,是有如虎添翼的助益。

話說回來,地方有了人、有了錢和權,是否就能好自為之,真正達到地方「自己管理、自己負責」的目標呢?誰也不敢說。不少學者在希望落實地方自治的同時,又為地方政壇已有惡質化傾向擔憂,在金權、派系、黑道把持的情況下,地方自治將會出現什麼變貌?

「這點不用過慮」,高育仁指出,地方有的是人才,教育的普及及資訊的開放,也使得選民有比較判斷的能力,「四年一次的縣市長改選,就是最好的仲裁。」

許新枝直言,如果不信任地方人民有自治的能力,就不必奢談實行地方自治。陳定南則認為,心態的轉變是當務之急。他強調,各級政府都是承其所在地居民的授權,來處理當地事務,因此所謂上下級政府間的關係不應是「隸屬」、「監督」,而是「均權」、「分工合作」;監督的工作,自有媒體與選民來做。因此他認為,此次地方自治有關草案中,中央仍以「自治監督」名義,對地方有所限制,這種心態宜修正才是。

地方自治正面臨突破性的法制化關鍵,目前法案已在立法院待審,如何修成「善法」,如何真正落實,恐怕還有一段路要走。

〔圖片說明〕

P.76

一橋之隔,分成兩個自治區域,行政首長可以展現不同的施政風格與建設藍圖,民眾則是最好的監督裁判者。圖為台北景美橋。

P.78

每年區運,是各縣市可以獲得上級大筆補助經費的好機會,因此各縣市莫不全力爭取。今年桃園縣的巨蛋體育館及相關設施,耗資超過二十餘億元。

P.80

民國卅五年,台灣省參議會第一屆大會成立,其中議員有民選、有官派,在當時的省議會(即今天的台北泉州街美新處)前,留下這張彌足珍貴的紀念照。(省議會資料館提供)

P.80

台灣省議員多數以質詢時風格剽悍著名,行政首長莫不小心備詢;但說到立法權,卻由於諸多限制而功能不彰。

P.82

在村里民大會中,居民可以盡情表達意見,提出要求;一方面凝聚社區意識,一方面進行民主訓練,這是落實地方自治的第一步。(邱瑞金攝)

P.83

台灣地區現行地方體制圖

台灣地區行政目前維持四級制。藍字標出者為具有自治法人地位的行政區域。括弧中為其個數。

P.84

年底縣長選舉即將開鑼,候選人爭得到百里侯寶座,是否也能爭得到自治權限,辦好縣政?

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近期文章

EN

The Search for Local Self-Government

Laura Li /photos courtesy of Vincent Chang /tr. by Phil Newell

The Taipei County Department of Education was recently be devilled by a dispute as to whose appointee should become its director. in Ilan County the movie theaters don't play the national anthem before the film. Many major investment projects which have been praised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs go up in smoke when it comes to building the facilities at the local level. Do you know what this all means? It's local self-government.

Accelerating local self-government is one of the major objectives of the cabinet of Premier Lien Chan. The Executive Yuan has drafted the "Provincial and County Self-Government Law" and the "Special Municipalities Self-Government Law," and sent these to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation. Will they provide the opportunity for a transformation?


As winter approaches, the election campaign for city and county executives is arriving with it. "Explosion" would be a suitable term to describe participation in the campaign. At least 100 people have expressed their desire to run for the 21 city and county executive posts. The platforms of a number of incumbents have attracted island-wide attention. The mayor of Hsinchu has a plan to build a "Cultural and Technological Metropolis" with a budget of NT$100 billion (about US$4 billion). In Ilan County the emphasis is on humanism, tourism, and identification with local traditions. And Taichung City, now part of Taiwan Province, is hoping to be placed on the same level as Taipei and Kaohsiung, which are special municipalities equivalent to provinces.

Behind these appeals is an emphasis on autonomy for the localities in terms of personnel, funding, and powers and responsibilities, as well as the development of the special characteristics of each place.

Nevertheless, the local elections seem "not quite up to snuff" compared to races to the central level parliamentary bodies. There is one school of thought that says that both call for talented persons. But those serving at the central level are seen as "pillars of society, displaying their talents for all to see," while these at the local level are considered "buried."

Since both represent the voters, why is there a status distinction? "No men, no money, no power. Even if there is just as much courage and character at the local level, and as much love for the land and people, everything just gets rubbed out," says one individual who formerly served as a county executive. Today, comfortably ensconced in his central government official's office, he describes his former days as "hectic from start to finish, yet I was often so frustrated or felt so powerless that I was unable to sleep at night."

There oughtta be a law!

The government has long been interested in returning government to the people through local autonomy. So why is there still such grumbling?

"The main reason is that the reality does not fit the theory, and there is no legal foundation," says legislator Kao Yu-jen, who has served as Tainan County executive, vice-minister of the Interior, director of the Depatment of Civil Affairs in the Taiwan Provincial Government, and speaker of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly.

Looking through The Thought of Dr. Sun Yatsen, it is clearly written that "local self-government is the bedrock of the nation" and "the central and local governments should share powers equally." The Constitution also stipulates that after the Legislative Yuan passes the "Principles for Local Self-Government," each province and county could then call an assembly of representatives of the people of the given area. These assemblies would then pass the equivalent of a provincial or county-level "constitution," fitting local needs, and thus establish local self-government.

This scheme seemed reasonable as it was intended for a China with 36 provinces. It would have permitted the establishment of a unitary central government as the sovereign power, but also permitted each area to adapt with due consideration given to the local history, culture, economy, and natural environment. At the same time, training and cultivation of democracy could take place at the base level through elections to local offices.

However, after the government came to Taiwan in 1949, a state of emergency was declared, changing everything. The "Principles for Local Self-Government" already being deliberated by the Legislative Yuan were shelved. They have been put off for more than 40 years. Though local self-government has been implemented on schedule, its only legal foundation has been the literally paperthin (only one page long) executive order "Main Points for Implementation of Local Self-Government by the Cities and Counties of Taiwan Province." Even the most basic laws for provincial level government have been held up.

In the absence of a legal foundation, inevitably the division of powers and responsibilities between various levels of government has been unclear, causing frequent disputes. During the state of emergency, these disputes were often resolved or regulated by resort to administrative decrees at the central level. The lower levels of government had no basis for making objections.

In order to rectify the current situation in which the "reality" of self-government "doesn't fit the theory," the Ministry of the Interior has sprung into action. Based on resolutions made after the amending of the Constitution by the Second National Assembly last year, the MOI sent the draft "Provincial and County Self-Government Law" to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation in April of this year. It is hoped that through codification there can be a "rectification of names" in the realm of local autonomy.

Sending aides and assistants to the local level:

"Codification" is just a process. It is too early to say whether a new law will be useful in clarifying disputes over the division of power between each level of government. This is because there are 64 existing laws and regulations relevant to local self-rule, under the jurisdiction of a variety of agencies, which have not yet been overhauled and amended.

Manpower, Money, Power. These are the items at the heart of all the arguments.

"The ideal of local self-government is to use local monies and personnel to handle local matters in accordance with the desires of the residents," points out Po Ching-chiu, a professor in the Department of Public Administration at National Cheng-chih University. But the first contradiction that arises is that the local leader is nominally expected to be responsible for succeeding or failing in implenting government policy, but he usually can't even select his own aides and assistants.

Taking the Taiwan Provincial Government for example, in terms of the hiring and firing of personnel, currently the provincial governor is appointed by the central government, and changes in the directors of the departments in the provincial administration must be approved by the Executive Yuan. The "province" is actually just the agent for implementing central level policies everywhere but in the special municipalities of Taipei and Kaohsiung (which are directly under the central government). Naturally, this more or less guts the powers reserved to local governments.

Fortunately, the draft Province and County Local Self-Government Law addresses this problem. The Ministry of the Interior states that it is very likely there will be direct election of the provincial governor in the future. This can be put into effect as soon as the Self-Government Law is passed by the Legislative Yuan. At that time the provincial governor will have far more autonomy in the selection of department heads. Not only that, the Self-Government Law also has provisions for two lieutenant governors, one of whom comes and goes with the governor, the other of whom is a career civil servant. These can take some of the workload off the governor.

However, "since there is a lieutenant governor who will follow the governor into and out of office, the logical thing would be for the governor to select that person himself, and he or she could take office after approval by the Provincial Assembly. But the draft of the Self-Government Law stipulates that this person must be approved by the Executive Yuan, and then formally appointed by the President. This is simply not letting go of matters in which the 'province' should be autonomous," says Hsu Hsin-chih, a member of the Control Yuan who has served as Taoyuan County executive and director of the Department of Civil Affairs in the Taiwan Provincial Government. This sort of "delegation of authority" is, in the end, only half-hearted.

The province is still unable to control its own personnel matters. Similarly, autonomy in personnel choices at the county and city level has been largely usurped by the province.

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen:

At present, the officials serving under the city or county executive are divided into those the executive can transfer and oversee, and those he or she "can neither move nor control." For example, the directors of the county bureaus for education, finance, and police, the county government directors of auditing and personnel, and even the principals and inspectors for county primary schools are all directly appointed by the provincial government.

"Early on these personnel could come and go as they pleased, and the county or city executive had no right to inquire into their affairs," reveals Hsu Hsin-chih. Twenty years ago when he was the Taoyuan County magistrate, the director of the Bureau of Finance, a former classmate and good friend, was transferred by the provincial government; the first Hsu heard of it was when he read it in the papers.

Chen Ting-nan, a legislator whose achievements as executive of Ilan County drew a great deal of attention, says that seven or eight years ago this applied not only to top officials; even low-level supervisors at civil service rating 5 with no connection to the most important posts had to be approved by the provincial government before they could be brought in. Fortunately, after years of contention, the situation has slightly improved. Today it is no longer necessary to get approval from the central government for anyone below civil service level 8. And with regard to the top officials who can make or break the administration of a city or county, the executive has more room to haggle if he or she does not approve of the individual selected by the provincial government. The more influential chiefs can even recommend candidates and ask the provincial government to formally appoint them.

Despite these improvements, there are many gaps in self-rule when it comes to hiring and firing, so it's no surprise that local officials feel a sense of powerlessness.

Not long ago, Taipei County executive You Ching wanted to hire Lin Yu-yi, a professor from National Normal University (the elite teaching university), as director of the county Bureau of Education. The provincial government rejected him on the grounds that his qualifications were not suitable, and assigned someone else. This led to a conflict over which appointee should take office, and for a time relations between the two sides were strained.

Because the lack of power over the employment and dismissal of personnel is the thing that city and county executives find most objectionable, in the plan to realize local autonomy the Ministry of the Interior intends to greatly broaden the powers of the executives in this respect. Except for the personnel, auditing, and police agencies, which legally fall under the special "single line of authority" system and thus cannot be easily altered, there will be "substantial respect" for the choices of the city or county chief for all other positions, for which the original administrative orders have been changed. This is still far removed from Chen Tingnan's ideal for a "county cabinet," in which all top administrators come and go with the executive, need not be approved by the provincial government, and are not bound by the civil service regulations on qualifications but are seen as political appointees. But at least it's some improvement.

Second class civil servants:

Not only do disputes over the power to hire and fire personnel have an impact on the success or failure of county administrations, the unequal rank of central and local officials causes local officials to think of themselves as "second class civil servants." Morale has been greatly affected.

Po Ching-chiu notes that all civil servants must pass the examinations, and on the surface there is no distinction between central and local personnel. But entire careers can depend on the post-examination assignment. For those serving in county and city governments, with the exception of chief secretary, the highest one can go is to level 9, equivalent to only a minor office supervisor in a central level ministry. Only in Taipei County, with a registered population in excess of 1.5 million (and an actual population of 3.19 million; 400,000 more than Taipei City) are top level county officials given the perquisites of chien-jen civil servants: (Chien-jen, or "special appointment rank," is the second highest rating in the modern ROC civil service.)

Lai Wen-chi, chief secretary of the Nantou County government, has some deep-seated feelings on this. He says that there are 50O government workers in Nantou, but he is the only chien-jen official. But in a central level ministry with 400 or 500 employees, there are chien-jen level office directors, section chiefs, and staff members all over the place. "Why would talented people want to get stuck at the local level?" It's no wonder that those who pass the higher level civil service examination use every means possible to get posted to the central government. And central level officials fear nothing more than being transferred to local agencies, where opportunities for advancement are greatly reduced.

Local personnel problems have been the subject of debate for some time now. There is perhaps finally light at the end of the tunnel. Chiu Chuang-huan, the current President of the Examination Yuan and a former provincial governor, has recently stated that the Examination Yuan is examining ways to raise the job gradings of local civil servants. This would have a wide impact, as it is estimated that 70,000 local government workers could be upgraded. This will be of great help in retaining talented people at the local level and in strengthening personnel flow between the central and regional levels.

Another problem connected to the question of "manpower" is the issue of the organizational structure of local governments.

Current regulations governing the organization of city and county governments are based on population and degree of economic development. These often cannot be adapted to local conditions, and the localities are not permitted any flexibility. For example, Panchiao City, today with a population of 540,000, is under the jurisdiction of the Taipei County, so that in the organizational charts it gets only one public health clinic, just like a 3,000 person township in a typical county. Meanwhile, Keelung City, with a population no greater than 360,000, is directly under the provincial government (which is to say equivalent in status to a county), so it is alloted seven clinics. Kao Yu-jen says frankly of this unreasonable situation: "People couldn't care less if their city is under the jurisdiction of a county or is directly under the provincial government; they just want to be able to get the most efficient services!"

Those who shovel out the stables never get to ride the horses:

"Manpower" problems are serious enough, but "money" problems are even more of a headache. Some describe the situation as "the central government lives in the lap of luxury, the localities beg on the street."

Po Ching-chiu points out that the current revenue system is divided into national taxes, provincial taxes, and county or city taxes. City and county levies are mostly property taxes, such as the land assessment tax, the land value-added tax (not collected for sales of farmland), taxes on homes and buildings, and so on. Compared to national taxes (income, sales, and customs duties), which grow with expansion in the economy and in personal incomes, the rate of increase in city and county revenues has been very low.

In a meeting of city and county executives, most of the local chiefs expressed hope that in the future 10% of income taxes will be hived off for the localities, with another 10% given to the province. In particular, those counties with factories work every day to collect the factory waste, but cannot share in even the operations taxes or merchandise taxes paid by these firms. It's a classic case of "those who shovel out the stables never get to ride the horses." This creates dissatisfaction at the local level. But the distribution of tax revenues is bound up with the "Methods for Tax Revenue Distribution" set by the Ministry of Finance. It would be very troublesome to revise the regulations.

Statistics show that more than half the counties or cities in Taiwan Province have poor land and poor people. Total taxes collected in these areas (including national, provincial, and city and county duties) are not adequate for covering expenses. Of these, seven cities and counties must rely on outside help even to pay the nominal salaries of their employees. Clearly they cannot manage to be "self-sufficient and self-governing."

Not only do the localities lack money; the center sometimes adds to their burdens.

For example, the central government stipulates that the land reserved for infrastructure projects in all cities and counties must be acquired beforehand. But taking Miaoli, for example, the total cost of acquisitions was NT$ 12.8 billion. After accounting for various subsidies, the county government was still responsible for NT$3 billion. Where would they get such a huge sum? In the end they had to borrow NT$1.5 billion from the provincial coffers, with the principal and interest creating an immediate deterioration in county finances. Further, land that could only be acquired through the destruction of private homes was just left there because there was no money left for construction. This angered the citizens, and the county government was at a loss for how to respond.

A county government and its money are soon parted:

To resolve the problem of the disparity in wealth between urban and rural areas, the provincial government has adopted a system of "central collection of taxes with redistribution of funds." For those cities and counties with less developed economies, or with severe population outflow, the redistribution of funds is of course the best possible plan. But the money is not there just for the asking. Often expenses that are considered vital at the local level are not seen as such by the center. Sometimes the funds are given with so many restrictions as to how they might be spent that it is hard for the local government to put them to use.

Currently the Ministry of Education, acting under the instructions of President Lee Teng-hui, has appropriated a fund of NT$4 billion to specially assist primary and middle schools to build new toilets. The result has been that many classrooms have been torn down with a great deal of waste, but still there are no luxurious new toilets.

Because the subsidy is appropriated by the higher levels, it is almost inevitable that local governments have the mindset that they should "get while the getting is good." And because most of the items for which the higher levels provide subsidies are "hardware," most local government officials devote their attention to bridge-building or road-paving, with immediately visible results. Meanwhile, planning for truly unique natural or human resources is largely ignored.

Furthermore, argues Po Ching-chiu, local governments are accustomed to handouts, and are not willing to devise new ways to raise money. Take for example the construction profit tax that local governments could always levy. After the minimum tax was rescinded in 1987, in order to appease constituents, many cities and counties halted collection altogether. Actions like this have caused their financial condition to deteriorate further.

A lack of manpower and money has made it impossible for local governments to fulfill their roles. When you add on the limitations on their powers, the space for action by local governments becomes even narrower.

Always a higher power:

Hsu Hsin-chih points out that after any new laws or regulations are passed by a local "self-governing" area, they must still be sent to the next higher level for perusal. If the higher level determines that the resolution in question is in conflict with any law or administrative order issued by this higher stratum (including both formal legislation and administrative orders issued by bureaucracies), it can declare the resolution invalid.

Hsu believes that if one really wants to respect the opinion of local voters and the resolutions of local assemblies, there should be no interference unless there is a conflict with formal legislation. Moreover, whether or not there is a conflict is often a matter of dispute. in the interests of fairness, most advanced nations ask the Ministry of Justice or the courts to arbitrate. But in Taiwan the higher level makes the judgements. This means that one of the interested parties is also serving as the judge, which is naturally inappropriate. Unfortunately, the new Self-Government Law has not yet altered this situation.

Hsieh Chin-ting, director of the Department of Civil Affairs in the Taiwan Provincial Government, offers the following example: When Premier Lien Chan was provincial governor, in order to assist farmers and realize the ideal of the "prosperous and beautiful farming village," he repeatedly asked the central government to raise the purchasing price for rice and to increase the amount purchased. The rice purchasing price problem was finally resolved only when Governor Lien became premier.

Just as the province is in the grip of the center, so the counties and cities are under the control of the province. Lin Po-jung, the Taichung City mayor, who has often convened task forces of city and county chiefs to explore how to strengthen local autonomy, still feels perplexed and annoyed at rules which require the counties and cities to get the approval of the provincial government even to buy a vehicle or to send a staff member abroad for an observation trip.

Don't ask, just act:

Lin Po-jung goes a step further and notes that because there is no clear, written declaration of what the limits to the autonomy of a city or county executive are, on many occasions, "when the county government reports what it wants to do to the provincial government, it may get a different response from the one that it got the year before. Whether or not something is approved depends to a large extent on the arbitrary choices of the person in charge of the case, or on personal connections."

With this in mind, after Lin again became mayor of Taichung, anytime he came across a situation where something that he wanted to do was not expressly and clearly forbidden, he would just take it upon himself to act; he no longer asked for approval for each and every matter. For example, more than three years ago Taichung City instituted an unemployment relief fund. They did so based on the stipulation in the "Outline for Self-Government" that "county charitable affairs and social assistance" are items that fall under county self-government. The results were so good that the Council on Labor Affairs called him in for consultation.

"Of course, we were only able to do it because Taichung City's own tax revenues were sufficient, and we didn't have to hold our hand out to the provincial government. But at that time if we hadn't just dared to decide on our own, and had first applied to the provincial government, I'm afraid we never would have pulled it off," says Lin. It's hard to miss the self-satisfaction in his voice.

Hsinchu City executive Tung Sheng-nan, who has finished first in repeated public opinion surveys on the degree of satisfaction with government officials, presented a comprehensive plan to the higher levels asking for funding. Lin Sung, director of the county government secretariat, relates that Tung set targets of "establishing one public park every two months," and "one public school each year," with an estimated maximum class size of 40 children. "The central government has a maximum of 48 students, but if the locality can do even better, then why not?!" wonders Lin Sung.

Su Chen-chang, chief executive in Pingtung County, "sneaked out ahead" even before the Ministry of Education approved of bilingual education. With an eye to the many ethnic groups in Pingtung, he initiated bilingual education simultaneously in Taiwanese, Hakka, Rukai, and Paiwan (each in combination with Mandarin Chinese), getting quite a response.

Few city and county executives would deny it: "You can only win if you seize the initiative." In particular, in the eyes of the voters, the more aggressively executives struggle, the more ambitious and responsible they seem. The "Chen Ting-nan effect" has been pervasive. The passive attitude of executives of old, who "had no money, had no power, and were happy just to while away the time," can no longer satisfy the electorate.

The people are the best judges:

"Affairs are decided by men." One provincial government official says with the eye of an objective observer, "Many cities and counties have never been managed with real dedication, so if someone with determination comes along, it isn't necessarily so difficult to turn a county around in a four-year term." He contends that the central government now fully comprehends the importance of devolving power and implementing local self-government. For city and county executives who really want to get things done, this has been a shot in the arm.

To come back to where we started, if localities get the manpower, the money, and the power, can they truly achieve the goal of "managing themselves and taking responsibility for themselves"? No one dares say. Many scholars, even as they extol implementation of local self-government, are also concerned about the declining quality of local government. With local governments often under the control of moneyed interests, local political machines, or even gangsters, what will self-government really look like?

"There's no need to be overly concerned about this point," says Kao Yu-jen. There are talented people at the local level, and with the spread of education and the availability of information, the voters have the ability to compare and judge. "The election for city and county executives every four years is the judgement."

Hsu Hsin-chih says straight out that if you don't trust people at the local level to govern themselves, then you shouldn't even bother to talk about local self-government. But Chen Ting-nan argues that a change of attitude is urgently needed. He emphasizes that the government at each level has been granted its power by the people under its jurisdiction to handle local affairs. Thus the relationship between higher and lower levels of government should not be one of "subordination" or "supervision," but of "equal sharing of powers" in a "cooperative division of labor." The work of supervision is for the media and the voters. But many scholars suggest that the central government is still using the jargon of "supervision of self-government" in the new draft Self-Government Law to impose limits on the localities. This attitude needs to be revised.

Local self-government is approaching a watershed moment of codification. The bill is currently in the Legislative Yuan awaiting deliberation. But there is still quite a way to go before it can be decided how to amend it to make it a positive, beneficial law, and how to truly realize it in practice.

[Picture Caption]

p.76

Merely a bridge apart, these communities are separated into two different administrative areas, enabling their chiefs to display different styles and blueprints for construction. The people will serve as the best judges of what is better. The photo shows the Chingmei Bridge linking Taipei City and Taipei County.

p.78

The Taiwan Area Athletic Meet, held annually, is an opportunity for the host city or county to receive large subsidies from the central government, so all of them compete to capture the games. This year Taoyuan County spent over NT$2 billion for its facilities.

p.80

In 1946, the First Provincial Assembly was established. Some of the members were elected, some appointed by the central government. They left this precious commemorative photo from the site at which the assembly then met (on what is now Chuanchow Street in Taipei City). (photo courtesy of the data center of the Provincial Assembly)

p.80

Provincial Assemblymen generally make their names through their style in interpellations, and government administrators never take interpellations lightly. But when it comes to the power of legislation, the Assembly has not functioned effectively due to a variety of limitations.

p.82

In the village and neighborhood assemblies, the residents can speak out to their hearts' content. On the one hand this solidifies community spirit, and on the other it provides training in democracy. This is the first step in implementing local self-government. (photo by Diago Chiu)

p.83

The Current Structure of Local Government in Taiwan

*Local government within Taiwan currently has a four-tier structure. Terms printed in blue refer to administrative areas with the status of Self-governing legal entities. The figures in parentheses are the numbers of each type of administrative unit.

(chart by Lee Su-ling)

p.84

The year-end elections for county executives are upon us. The candidates strive to get the support of their constituencies, but can they get local autonomy and govern well?

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