Motions demanding that state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台灣電力公司) suspend construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) and rejecting the company’s budget proposal for the year were passed yesterday by the legislature’s Economics Committee.
The motions, initiated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, shot down Taipower’s plan to spend NT$11.7 billion (US$392.99 million) on the plant this year, including NT$10.7 billion of construction work that has already been outsourced.
The committee, chaired by DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), passed the motions a few minutes after the meeting started, catching Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators off-guard.
Describing the process as an “ambush,” KMT caucus whips told a press conference after the meeting that the KMT did not recognize the validity of the DPP’s resolutions and would file a reconsideration motion when the committee reconvenes on Monday.
“It’s regrettable that the DPP’s resolutions cleared the Economics Committee. We do not accept their validity,” KMT Policy Committee chief Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said.
KMT Legislator Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟), who co-chairs the legislative committee, said the resolutions were passed without due process.
“The meeting was in a bit of chaos when the DPP made the proposals. The rotating chairperson [Huang] announced the passage of the resolutions before all the members had a copy of the proposals,” Liao said.
Lin said the committee has no right to “send back” Taipower’s budget request for the year because it was part of a joint budget request made by all state-owned enterprises that the Executive Yuan had sent to the legislature for review.
“The budget bill was referred by the legislature’s plenary session to the [Economics] Committee for preliminary review. The committee can hold off a review, slash the budget, or freeze it, but it has no right to reject it,” Lin said.
According to Constitutional Interpretation No. 520, if the power plant’s construction is stopped — which constitutes a major policy change — “the right to launch the initiative rests with the Executive Yuan, rather than the legislature,” Lin said.
As required by Article 3 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution and Article 17 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法), the premier and Cabinet officials have to present a report on the policy change to the legislature, take questions from lawmakers in a plenary session and win legislative support before an order to halt the plant’s construction can be issued, Lin added.
After the committee meeting, the DPP caucus called a press conference, in which DPP caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said the passage of the motions was “the first step” toward permanently suspending construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
Pan said his caucus had been surprised that KMT lawmakers had not opposed the motions during the meeting.
Pan added that a previous resolution passed by the plenary session stated that, except for safety work and projects that have already been contracted, all construction at the power plant should be suspended until a national referendum is held.
Huang said the motions passed by the committee were in line with the plenary resolution and that the procedures in yesterday’s meeting were entirely legal.