Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said Monday she hopes the budget for the new Ministry of Culture will be no less than 1 percent of the country's total budget next year.
"I hope it will not be lower than 1 percent, or NT$20 billion (US$686 million)," Lung said at a legislative session, during which she expressed her hopes for the new ministry that will be inaugurated May 20, when the Cabinet reorganization takes effect.
The new ministry, to be upgraded from the Council for Cultural Affairs, will include parts of the Ministry of Education, the Government Information Office and the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission.
"If the budget stays at the same level after the Ministry of Culture is established, it means there really are some problems with the government's commitment (to culture)," the minister said.
Lung added that the council's budget this year accounted for 0.52 percent of the total annual government budget.
During the legislative session, several lawmakers questioned Lung over the council's NT$10 billion investment project, funded by the National Development Fund, to promote cultural and creative industries.
In response to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chiun's remark that the size of the project's fund dwarfs the NT$2 billion subsidy provided annually by the council to the art sector, Lung said investment funds should not be compared to subsidies.
"The fund could never have been made into subsidies," she said, urging those in the art sector not to feel that resources have been appropriated by the 12 venture capital companies selected to benefit from the fund.
Meanwhile, another legislator asked what Lung would think if Taiwan's outlying Kinmen County invited cities in China to jointly apply for world heritage status for Minnan culture.
Lung said she supports pan-regional cooperation and suggested expanding the scope of such interaction to include Southeast Asian countries, such as Singapore and Indonesia, where Minnan culture is also prevalent.
"I really hope that Minnan culture can be given attention in Taiwan. It's not simply a dialect, but a cultural asset we can present to the world," Lung said.
As there are 50 million people speaking Minnan worldwide, there are a number of opportunities for Taiwan, the minister said, suggesting the development of Minnan TV dramas.
(By Christie Chen)