Dear Editor – Your reporting on the above is interesting and I believe it sheds light on a wider problem – the systematic abuse of public office travel entitlements.
If one does a simple calculation for the $459,000 per diem for 15 people for 14 days, even if spread over all of them they would get about USD280 per day each on average (you try the calculation 459,000 / 15 people / 14 days / 7.8 USD-SBD rate)
As any consultant (for instance DFAT or SPC) knows, an allowance of USD 200 plus is obviously supposed to cover accommodation and meals and incidental expenses.
However, we know that in this case the Taiwan government is covering at least some of the accommodation and meals.
Therefore the payment of USD 280 for expenses not incurred has to be in breach of some protocols somewhere and is clearly an abuse.
Your reporter should drill deeper and find out the normal practice of MPs and public officers when travelling overseas, where another party is paying accommodation costs.
Is it standard practice to pocket the huge amount – equivalent to a lower-end international consulting rate?
This is another way public funds are being syphoned off by elites.
I believe this is happening and explains the eagerness for overseas travel especially by MPs.
The question should also be asked is IRD aware of these incomes?
Thank you for brave public interest reporting.