Premier Liu Chao-shiuan's (劉兆玄) administrative report at the opening of the new legislative session was delayed until late yesterday afternoon after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators surrounded him and demanded he apologize to the public for the nation's poor economic performance.
Liu later agreed to apologize.
“If a premier in this country has to apologize so he can proceed with his work smoothly,” Liu said, “[and] as the public is in urgent need of the budget, I, as premier, can apologize as many times as you [DPP lawmakers] need me to, as long as you can calm down.”
“If you [DPP lawmakers] are concerned about the economy, the unemployment problem ... I would like to apologize to the public,” Liu said, against the backdrop of DPP lawmakers repeatedly shouting, “Apologize to the public.”
With dozens of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers flanking Liu at the legislative podium to defend him from DPP lawmakers, the premier finally made his brief statement at around 3:50pm.
The DPP's call for an apology came after the statistics agency on Wednesday adjusted its GDP forecast for this year, saying it could contract 2.97 percent. This compares with the forecast it made late last year of a rise of 2.12 percent.
DPP lawmakers began the boycott around noon, demanding Liu offer an apology to the public for the continued economic slump.
“The Liu Cabinet owes the public an apology,” DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said.
Liu finally gave up any attempt to read his 26-page administrative report after failing to do so twice.
KMT legislative caucus whip Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) said that DPP lawmakers should propose strategies to beat the economic downturn instead of “acting irrationally at this time of global economic instability.”
Fielding questions from lawmakers later in the day, Liu called on the legislature to approve the special four-year budget totaling NT$500 billion (US$14.35 billion) to fund a massive increase in public works nationwide.
Liu said the budget earmarked in response to the global economic crisis would account for about 2.5 percent of GDP — lower than an average of 8 percent in some countries — but the result could put it on par with those countries.
In the next four years, the government will invest more than NT$800 billion to expand public construction, stimulate private investment in competitive industries and increase loans to businesses by NT$1.1 trillion to lift the country out of the doldrums.
On the issue of signing a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with China, Liu said the government had been cautiously studying the plan, adding that it would try to clarify any public misgivings about such a pact.
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