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Lawmakers propose to raise housing allowance for diplomats

2012/04/23 17:31:59

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) Legislators from both the ruling and main opposition party launched an initiative Monday to increase the housing allowance for diplomats stationed abroad, a week after the killing of a Taiwanese embassy worker in the Dominican Republic.

An appropriate increase in the subsidy should be given to those living in regions with higher security risks, stated the proposal that was signed by lawmakers at a meeting of the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

On April 17, Julia Ou, a second secretary at the Republic of China Embassy in the Caribbean country, was found dead in her apartment located in a suburban area. Police suspect that she was killed by a burglar who followed home the night before.

During the committee session, Foreign Minister Timothy Yang acknowledged that low housing subsidies have forced Taiwanese diplomats in certain countries to rent apartments in relatively remote areas that have greater security risks.

Yang said he has long been striving to get higher budgets allocated to offices abroad to improve the living standards of diplomat, but to no avail.

He cited the country's financial difficulties as the major reason for the delay in the government's approval of more funds.

Lin Yu-fang, a lawmaker from the ruling Kuomintang, said that the last housing subsidy adjustment for diplomats stationed abroad was made in 2005, so a new one was long overdue.

The allowance in many cities is much lower than the standard average for a location, according to a press statement released by Lin's office.

A third secretary in New York, for example, receives US$1,881 per month for housing, which is US$1,219 less than the standard rental average, it said.

(By Nancy Liu)