Tue, Feb 13, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Power plant compromise approaching

CLOSING THE GAPThe Executive Yuan and legislators are narrowing their differences on whether to allow building of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to continue

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan and opposition lawmakers yesterday moved a step closer to ending an impasse over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四), after the Cabinet revised language in a written agreement that will call for the plant's construction to resume.

The decision was made during a meeting between Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) and major DPP faction leaders.

While the Executive Yuan had been expected to announce a resumption of the plant's construction last Monday, a strong backlash from within the DPP prevented the premier from doing so, and interrupted negotiations between the Executive Yuan and the opposition.

After the meeting, Su Tzen-ping (蘇正平), director of the Government Information Office, announced that the revised agreement would state that "following negotiations between the Cabinet and Legislative Yuan," the Cabinet is willing to reactivate the budget for the plant and let the construction work continue.

This expression, which is obviously a plain description of the current situation, replaced a Feb. 6 proposal that said the Executive Yuan was willing to do so "with the coordination of the president."

Secondly, Su said, subsequent budgets for the project will be handled "in accordance with the law," replacing a previous expression that they would be handled by "the newly-elected legislators based on the most recent public opinion," meaning those elected in this December's legislative election.

Finally, the Executive Yuan will draft an energy law, and the legislative process for the law will be completed via negotiations between ruling and opposition lawmakers, Su added.

This is different from a previous proposal, which asked for negotiations before the draft is raised.

The opposition had rejected the Feb. 6 proposal, saying the plant was a "major national affair" on which the legislature had the constitutional power to make resolutions, and thus did not require coordination by the president.

In addition, the opposition saw the proposal to have the next legislature handle the project as undermining sitting legislators and as a ploy to win the sympathies of anti-nuclear voters in the year-end elections.

Responding to the Executive Yuan's revised proposal, Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said it had showed a narrowing of the gap between the two sides. "[The revised version] is very close to the legislature's basic position," Wang said.

Leaders of the KMT, People First Party and New Party caucuses, meanwhile, unanimously said that if what Su announced yesterday is the final version that the Executive Yuan will send to the legislature, they will accept it.

"[The version] is similar to what the opposition coalition proposed on Feb. 5," said KMT caucus whip Cheng Yung-chin (鄭永金).

The Executive Yuan is expected to present the revised version to the nine-man panel hosted by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for a final discussion tonight, before it is submitted officially to the legislature.

No announcement of resumption of construction of the plant is expected before tomorrow at the earliest.

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