The Executive Yuan yesterday suffered a setback to a major policy for a second consecutive day when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators refused to place on the legislative agenda an amendment imposing taxes on income earned from securities.
On behalf of the KMT caucus, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) proposed delaying review of the amendment at the legislature’s Procedure Committee meeting, which determined items on the agendas of the plenary session for Friday and Tuesday next week.
“I think we have neither the ability nor the willingness [to review the tax bill]; we have been so bogged down on the US beef issue. We do what we can do within our capabilities. We are brave enough to hold off on placing the [tax bill] on the agenda. Let’s leave it to the next session,” Wu said.
On Monday, a government--proposed amendment seeking to conditionally relax a ban on imports of beef containing residue of the feed additive ractopamine was voted down in a preliminary review because KMT Legislator Cheng Ju-fen (鄭汝芬) absented herself from the vote for the sake of “public health.”
Wu, who has been labeled a loyal soldier of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), yesterday said the “KMT caucus will not do whatever the executive branch wants the caucus to do from now on.”
“The caucus will act at our discretion if the executive branch fails to communicate with lawmakers before a major policy is made,” Wu said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), the rotating chair of the committee, did not put Wu’s motion to a vote, warranting a vote at the plenary session on Friday to decide on the matter.
With one month left before the legislative session enters the summer recess, it appears unlikely that the amendments to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) and the Income Basic Tax Act (所得基本稅額條例) will clear the legislative floor this session.
“Reinstating a securities tax was not on the Executive Yuan’s list of priority bills for this session. Now, Minister of Finance Christina Liu (劉憶如) can sit down and talk about the policy with lawmakers during the recess period,” Wu said.
KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said it was not necessary to put the issue on the legislative agenda because “it would only disrupt the stock market and unsettle investors.”
“This session is going into recess. We will not be able to review the policy until November,” he said, adding that his caucus did not inform Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and Liu before it blocked the bills.
The DPP described the development as a constitutional crisis and demanded that Ma, Chen and Liu step down. If Ma does not dismiss Chen after his second inauguration on May 20, the DPP would propose a vote of no-confidence, DPP whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said.
“Chen and Liu should resign to take responsibility for their failed policy and Ma should apologize to the public because his re-election has been the worst disaster that could happen to this country,” Ker said.
From the US beef controversy to the securities tax, it has been clear that Ma’s own party comrades do not support his policies, he said.
The public has paid a high price for Ma’s inconsistent policies and Ma, who pledged tax reform, seems to be “beating up his right hand with his left hand,” Tuan said.
Liu refused to comment about the issue yesterday, while a ministry official said the ministry would communicate with lawmakers before the legislative meeting on Friday, while saying it still hoped lawmakers would add the bill to this legislative session.