Sun, Sep 18, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Legislature needs plan for efficient use of time

By Lo Chuan-hsien 羅傳賢

The current legislative session began on Tuesday, and each legislative caucus has announced priority bills they aim to pass. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the New Power Party (NPP) caucuses proposed 32 and 27 priority bills respectively, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus proposed 95 priority bills.

Since the legislature also has to review the central government’s general budget for next year during this session, time for legislation is limited. How are they going to draw up a feasible legislative plan?

Timely legislation is beneficial to policy implementation and it meets the needs of the nation and society. Achieving this goal requires legislative planning.

The Cabinet has proposed a legislative plan of priority bills that it is to ask the legislature to consider during every session, but in practice, the Executive Yuan lacks the ability to integrate the process, so it allows each caucus to push for its own priority bills.

This inevitably causes a crowding-out effect and delays the review of draft legislation that should have been given priority, therefore leaving the legislature missing the best opportunity for reform.

The British Cabinet has a Parliamentary Business and Legislation Committee, a key mechanism to create balance in its annual legislative program.

The committee consists of top government officials in charge of parliamentary negotiation and fiscal and legal affairs, as well as the leaders of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as the chief whips of the two houses. It is chaired by the leader of the House of Commons.

The committee is responsible for striking a balance between legislative bills proposed by different ministries, and it finalizes which legislative issues make it onto the agenda. This system would be a good reference for Taiwan.

PLANNING AHEAD

If Taiwan’s Cabinet wants to play an integration roll and promote legislative efficiency, it should eliminate departmentalism in government agencies; replace its passive attitude with a more active one to respond to the future needs of society, mainstream public opinion, as well as foreseeing the development of political, economic and social trends; and it should take the initiative to contact legislators and propose a foresighted legislative plan at the beginning of each session to ensure that major bills are passed by the legislature in a timely manner.

A legislative plan should be the guideline as the committees make their lists of priority bills. The legislature should follow Article 6-1 of the Organic Act of Legislative Committees (立法院各委員會組織法), which states that conveners of each committee should jointly invite committee members to draw up a legislative plan during each session, and officials from related government agencies might be invited for consultation if necessary.

The intention of such legislation is to bring the performance of committee operations in line with the needs of the nation, as well as public expectations. It is necessary for each committee to draw up a legislative plan at the beginning of each session and use that as a basis and goal for that session.

The conveners of each committee should immediately invite committee members for discussions on building a consensus, so as to draft a list of priority bills to increase legislative efficiency.

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