Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Vote on what to vote about expected today

SETTING THE AGENDA:The arrangements for the legislature’s extraordinary meeting were informally agreed to yesterday, with most contentious items first

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Conveners and representatives of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party, the People First Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union caucuses consult with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, seated center right, in the chamber of the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Lawmakers could vote today to decide on the government’s plan to levy a capital gains tax on securities transactions and to ease the ban on beef imports containing ractopamine residue.

A total of 38 items initiated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), including the capital gains tax and beef imports, were placed on the agenda for a three-day plenary meeting in the extra session by a vote at an informal meeting held yesterday morning.

The agenda was later confirmed at a meeting of the legislature’s Procedure Committee, with the tax plan topping the agenda, followed by the US beef issue, while a confirmation vote on four National Communications Commission nominees was scheduled for tomorrow.

To make up for the all-time record low of just 11 bills being passed in the first session of the Eighth Legislature, which ended on June 15, the KMT caucus said it hoped that other “non-controversial” bills could be passed by the legislature on Friday.

A demand by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also serves as KMT chairman, that the KMT caucus call for an extra session right after the beef issue was not resolved in the regular session because of an opposition boycott of the legislative proceedings. Opposition lawmakers occupied the podium, thereby preventing a vote on the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) during the last five days of the regular session.

Last week, Ma called for passage of 50 items of legislation in the extra session.

After maximum residue levels for ractopamine in beef and pork were ratified by the Codex Alimentarius Commission — the international food safety body — earlier this month, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) backed down from its boycott strategy and said it would “put forward its own proposal for a vote,” according to caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

However, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus remains firm in its stance that Taiwan should maintain a zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine. TSU whip Hsu Chun-hsin (許忠信) said the caucus would “spare no efforts to boycott the proceedings.”

Meanwhile, a government plan to impose taxes on income earned from securities by passing amendments to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) and the Income Basic Tax Act (所得基本稅額條例) still faces a lot of opposition, not only from the opposition parties, but also from within the KMT.

KMT whip Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) called on his caucus members to vote for the proposal, reached through negotiations between the government, KMT lawmakers and the KMT headquarters, “even though party disciplinary measures are not exerted.” Hsu said the party has yet to decide whether to discipline members on the issue.

KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) said he would vote the way the party wanted if he was subject to party discipline for failing to do so, but “that does not change my understanding that levying the tax at this time did not agree with mainstream public opinion.”

KMT Legislator Chen Ken-te (陳根德) said he would vote against the proposal.

“Imposing taxes on income on securities transactions will bring about the collapse of the capital market. I bet my political life on it. Let’s see how much tax revenue it will bring and how it will affect the markets one year after its implementation,” Chen said.

On the issue of capital gains tax, both the DPP and TSU said they would withdraw from the session in protest, criticizing the timing of the proposal and its failure to address the fairness issue.

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