Fri, Jan 13, 2006 - Page 1 News List

DPP denounces `barbaric' KMT votes

INEFFECTUAL The party whip was furious at the pan-blue camp's goal of 'paralyzing' the executive, while the GIO minister suffered the unkindest cut of all -- to his salary

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The opposition-dominated legislature yesterday voted down the NT$10.9 billion (US$338 million) budget earmarked for Patriot missile batteries and a NT$272.62 million outlay preparing for the purchase of items remaining in the special arms procurement package.

A retirement pension program for civil servants was postponed until the next session. Two-thirds of the Examination Yuan's budget was therefore frozen because of the crucial nature of the proposed reform, as well as the entire budget of the Ministry of Civil Service.

Two-thirds of the Executive Yuan's budget was frozen, with opposition legislators demanding that the government begin building the Suao-Hualien freeway before the budget would be released.

In one example of legislation that was cleared, the construction of the Hushan Reservoir (湖山水庫) in Yunlin County will proceed despite environmentalists' protests.

Environmental groups had called for the budget to be frozen, saying that it posed both geological and ecological dangers.

The legislature also voted in favor of a People First Party (PFP) proposal that the Presidential Office dissolve its constitutional reform office, human rights commission and four other agencies.

The budget of the Mainland Affairs Council was cut by NT$100 million, and NT$280,000 meant for Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Pasuya Yao's (姚文智) salary was trimmed.

The legislature also slashed NT$40.2 billion from the second financial reform plan and voted in favor of conditionally lifting the ban on US beef imports.

Altogether, the legislature yesterday slashed NT$36.5 billion from the government budget and froze NT$246 billion. The cut is the largest in a decade.

The Executive Yuan will ask the Legislative Yuan to reconsider the government's 2006 budget bill, a senior official said late last night.

Claiming that it would be difficult to operate on a leaner budget, the Executive Yuan announced late last night that it would seek a reconsideration of the budget plan. It would be the first time in history that the executive branch asks the legislature to reexamine a passed government budget.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus condemned the pan-blue camp's "barbaric behavior" and said it was trying to paralyze the government.

"We demand that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) provide an explanation for its irrational performance," DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said. "We denounce Ma; he takes full responsibility as he is the mastermind."

Meanwhile, the odds of amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Control Statute (菸害防制法) passing this legislative session are small after firm opposition from the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (NPSU).

Under the amendments, smoking would be banned in offices and public indoor spaces where there are more than three people present. A number of restrictions would also be placed on smoking outdoors, such as on school grounds.

The Outlying Islands Development Law (離島建設條例) will not be put to a vote today after the NPSU changed its previous stance. The revisions would legalize casinos on islands such as Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

Earlier yesterday afternoon, the legislature voted on the 13 National Communications Commission (NCC) nominees, confirming 12 and rejecting one recommended by the DPP. The body will become operational in 10 days.

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