Taiwanese Funding of Foreign Ministry Questioned

May 28, 2004

WITHOUT any government supervision,during six years the government ofTaiwan sent to a private Costa Rican association$4.8 million to channel to theCosta Rican Foreign Ministry, La Naciónreported.Both the president of the Associationfor Foreign Political Development,Bolívar Salas, and former ForeignMinister and ex-president of the associationRoberto Rojas, interviewed separately,admitted to the paper there was nolegal obligation to present accounts ofhow the funds were spent to any publicentity, but they assured reporters themoney was used for good purposes.The Association is just one of severalparallel financing associations the FinanceMinistry has had since 1986.LA Nación reported Monday thatTaiwan paid the salaries of 21 employeesof the Foreign Ministry.The workers paid the legal deductionsfor the salaries they received, which variedbetween ¢126,700 ($292) and¢816,000 ($1,880). However, othersreceived “salary complements,” whichfluctuated between ¢30,650 ($71) and¢600,000 ($1,382) but didn’t pay socialsecurity or income taxes on the money,according to Salas.Taiwanese chancellor Tan-Sun Chensaid in a cabinet meeting in Taipei thisweek that Taiwan contributed to CostaRica solely for development projects, notfor salary augmentations, La Naciónreported.Chen referred to a check for$250,000 that he said Costa Ricanauthorities had promised to use for thepromotion of tourism and commerce, butthe government used it for “otherthings.” Chen said Taiwan had nothingto do with the decision and cannot interveneat this point.THE funds came from a project of theTaiwanese government to help CentralAmerican foreign ministers. During thesame period, the project distributed $32.1million to the Foreign Ministries of theisthmus.According to the Taiwanese Embassyin San José, Costa Rica’s ForeignMinistry asked Taiwan for assistance.Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar insistedthe funds were handled in the mosttransparent manner possible. He said hehas asked the Finance Ministry if thefunds could be managed through a specialaccount in the National Treasury to maketheir use seem more transparent, but hadnot yet received a response.The bank used to make the payments,The International Commercial Bank ofChina, was the same used to make controversialanonymous donations totaling$500,000 to President Abel Pacheco’selection campaign, La Nación reported.

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