Sat, Mar 02, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Budget issue wracks legislature

TOUGH STAND The Legislative Yuan has ordered the Cabinet to balance the budget in line with its trimmed revenue forecast, or else face punitive measures

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

A new struggle is posed to erupt between the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan, this time over their disagreement as to how to resolve the budget shortfall for the current year.

After inter-party negotiations designed to seek a solution to the dispute broke down yesterday, some opposition lawmakers proposed referring Lin Chuan (林全), head of the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, to the Control Yuan for investigation. Others preferred requesting a constitutional interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices.

Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) affirmed that the legislature must take a tough stand to safeguard legislative power, saying the January resolution passed by the legislature on the solution to the shortfall has the effect of a law.

"We hope the Executive Yuan will move to balance the budget as soon as possible. If the Executive Yuan fails to do so, I'll present this case to the Legislative Yuan sitting for discussion and final handling," Wang said.

Accusing the Cabinet of over-estimating the nation's revenue, the opposition-dominated legislature trimmed its forecast by NT$81.2 billion when passing the NT$1.6 trillion budget in January.

But the legislature only cut projected spending by NT$12.7 billion, leaving a shortfall of NT$68.5 billion.

According to the legislature's resolution, the Cabinet should adjust its spending plans to resolve the shortfall. Also, the Cabinet is prohibited from using surpluses from previous fiscal years, selling assets, and incurring debts to fill the gap, the resolution stated.

In what was considered by opposition lawmakers as contempt for the legislature, the Cabinet has ignored the resolution and taken no action to balance the budget over the past month.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday said the Executive Yuan plans to put forth a supplementary budget proposal to resolve the shortfall.

Lin Chuan explained that the Executive Yuan can't carry out the legislature's resolution because the Budget Law does not empower the Executive Yuan to cut the budget on its own. Lin was optimistic that the actual revenue received by the government would reach the level originally forecast by the Executive Yuan.

While the nation's revenue reached NT$900 billion last year despite the bad economy, the legislature felt that the Executive Yuan's revenue forecast for this year was too high and trimmed it to NT$870 billion, Lin said.

In yesterday's inter-party negotiations, opposition lawmakers proposed that the Executive Yuan reduce its interest spending by redeeming high-interest government bonds and issuing low-interest bonds.

Another possibility was to postpone the NT$16 billion program to issue a monthly stipend for the elderly, the opposition lawmakers suggested.

But the ideas were rejected by the DPP.

"These ideas are totally infeasible. This is only to politicize the whole matter," said Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), convener of the DPP legislative caucus.

Disagreeing with Ker, Lin Yi-shih (林益世), whip of the KMT legislative caucus, criticized the DPP for "practicing monarchy under the pretense of democracy" by ignoring the legislature's resolution.

If the Cabinet had a problem carrying out the resolution, it should have introduced a proposal and asked the legislature to reconsider the decision within the legal dateline, Lin said.

This story has been viewed 2719 times.
TOP top