The legislature yesterday concluded the second and final day of a provisional session initiated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus, passing 21 government-restructuring bills that will revamp the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics, overseas missions and ethical institutions.
To streamline the central government, improve its effectiveness and enhance flexibility within its departments, the government launched a plan to restructure the organization of the Executive Yuan, reducing the current 37 agencies to 29, which will consist of 14 ministries, eight councils, three independent agencies and four additional organizations, over the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014.
The restructuring plans required legislative approval of acts concerning changes to the organization of the affected agencies, but 80 other acts still failed to clear the legislature.
After negotiations, lawmakers decided not to rush the passage of the 80 draft acts on which they disagreed by voting on them, as this would have prolonged the session by another day.
The seventh legislature closed on Dec. 14 to allow lawmakers to focus on the legislative elections last Saturday. The KMT caucus on Tuesday unexpectedly proposed a provisional session, saying that it was urgent to pass the scores of acts to prevent them having to go through the whole legislative process in the new legislature, but only 21 acts were passed.
Amid public concern, lawmakers decided not to vote on an amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法) advocated by Non--Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Yen Chin-piao (顏清標) in which local elected representatives, such as city or county councilors and borough or village wardens, would be absolved of charges related to the abuse of discretionary funds.
If passed, the amendment would benefit Yen, who has been indicted on charges of embezzlement and the fraudulent acquisition of public money while he served as Tai-chung County Council speaker from October 1998 to December 2000 in a case involving several Taichung politicians who sought to use public funds to reimburse expenses from night clubs.
In related developments, Premier and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday that a new Cabinet would be formed next month.
Vice Premier Sean Chen was widely expected by local media to be named as Wu’s successor, while Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) was rumored to be tapped as the vice premier.
Declining to comment on the reported appointments, Wu said he “was not informed.”
“I cannot comment publicly on that before the president has made a final decision,” he said. “It’s the role of the president to appoint a premier.”
The oath of office for the eight legislature will be taken on Feb. 1. The legislature’s question-and--answer session for the new premier’s policy address could be set for Feb. 17, pending a decision by new lawmakers.
“The new Cabinet will definitely be in place before the session begins,” Wu said.