Sat, Jan 22, 2005 - Page 1 News List

DPP stymies bills after budget success

FILIBUSTER Compromise on budget details allowed the government to get away with an NT$1.1 billion shortfall, but tempers frayed when the DPP blocked other legislation

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature performed a dramatic about-face with the government's annual budget late last night when it agreed to reduce the budget shortfall from more than NT$70 billion (US$2.2 billion) to a mere NT$1.1 billion.

But the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus later prevented passage of a law forming a national communications commission by stalling the session.

The DPP's tactics meant that other important bills -- including three labor-related laws, the organic law of the Central Election Commission (中央選舉委員會組織法), the organic law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) and the Law Governing the National Assembly's Exercise of Power (國民大會職權行使法) -- were not voted on.

These bills must now be resubmitted by the next Cabinet for the next legislature's consideration.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), angered by the DPP's boycott, withdrew its support for several bills that had been agreed to by the party caucuses. Consequently the legislature was only able to pass a number of minor bills, such as amendments to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law (藥事法) and the Medical Affairs Law (醫療法).

The current legislature passed a total of 611 bills over the last three years, which Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called a "fair" number.

Wang concluded the final sitting of the legislature by complimenting lawmakers for delivering on their promise to voters by downsizing the legislature, better regulating political donations and passing the National Assembly Representatives Election Law (國民大會代表選舉法) and the Referendum Law (公民投票法).

Wang said he hoped the new legislature would pass the other important laws in the shortest time possible.

"I also hope the administration can obtain a good understanding of the way things are and respect the democratic mechanisms that govern the legislature's operations. This will create a win-win situation and will be beneficial to the nation and the public," Wang said.

On Thursday, the pan-blue caucuses were preparing to cut about NT$110 billion from government income for this fiscal year, which would have resulted in a budget shortfall of NT$70 billion.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Vice Premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) and other Cabinet officials then visited Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) late on Thursday night -- the first time a premier has visited the legislature during a review of the annual budget.

Late into the night, the opposition caucuses finally agreed to ease the cut to government income in return for other changes to the budget, which the DPP agreed to.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus came on board after the other parties agreed not to take action on the Income Tax Law, and the budget plan was modified accordingly, leaving a much smaller shortfall of NT$1.1 billion.

With the budget approved, the floor then approved amendments to the Land Tax Law (土地稅法) which will permanently reduce land-value increments.

But when the time came to pass the bill forming a national communications commission, which is intended to take over the regulatory arm of the Government Information Office, DPP lawmakers launched a filibuster.

Outgoing lawmakers gave farewell speeches yesterday afternoon and were treated to a farewell dinner in the evening at the Legislative Yuan. Wang and Yu were both present to greet and farewell the lawmakers.

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