Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday again occupied the legislative speaker’s podium as they urged their colleagues to retract a bill to implement the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Plan.
With the Economics Committee scheduled to lead a second joint-committee review of the bill today, the KMT caucus staged a protest against what it called the NT$880 billion (US$29.3 billion) “money-pit bill,” demanding a redrafting of the bill to reduce the expenditure and shorten its target period from eight years to four.
KMT caucus secretary-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) said the plan is “unreasonable and unjust” and that, as a responsible opposition party, the KMT is obliged to block a bill that is “destined to accrue a great debt that will be shouldered by our children.”
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
“We would be saving the nation NT$100 billion if we cut it down by NT$100 billion, or saving NT$200 billion if NT$200 billion is blocked,” KMT Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said.
The review scheduled for today and tomorrow would be a second-round review of the bill, as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), a convener of the Economics Committee who presided over the review last week, promised to restart deliberations this week after acknowledging procedural flaws in last week’s controversial approval of the bill.
Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said that since the review is to be restarted, he had no idea why the KMT had to boycott the general assembly meeting, adding that occupying the podium should be seen as a last resort.
“Using the tactic frivolously will only incur public disapproval,” Su said.
In the cross-caucus negotiation shunned by the KMT caucus, People First Party caucus whip Lee Hong-chun (李鴻鈞) called on the DPP caucus to guarantee that the bill would not be passed “as a package” and that revisions would be allowed to ensure the KMT caucus’ cooperation.
DPP caucus secretary-general Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said that the committee review is being held to allow for a clause-by-clause review of the bill.
“In the notice for [today’s] meeting, the words ‘extensive discussion’ has been included,” DPP caucus chief executive Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) said.
Per the KMT’s request, Chiu has also been replaced by DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), the other Economics Committee convener, Yeh said.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that during the negotiations, it was “very clear that the KMT’s tactics, for both the pension reform and the infrastructure development plan, are simply to cause chaos.”
“What they are calling for, such as an accountability mechanism [for the plan], can all be discussed and added in the bill during the committee review,” Ker said.
Infrastructure plans proposed during the administrations of former presidents Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were not obstructed by the legislature when the DPP was the legislative minority, he added.
“For the KMT, it is easy to be an opposition party,” because they simply oppose whatever the ruling party proposes, Ker said, adding: “There would be no chance for [the KMT] to rise again.”
New Power Party (NPP) caucus convener Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said that the party favors a rigorous review of the bill and would consider the KMT caucus’ call for a partial redraft.
“Since the plan is composed of three parts — the special statute, the substantive content of the plan and the budget plan — the Executive Yuan could consider reviewing the content of the development project as the public has misgivings about it,” Hsu said. “The NPP suggests that the plan be divided into two stages of four years each, with the latter stage to be discussed later.”
“What we are dealing with now is precisely the statute [or the legal framework], without which the plan content and the budget could not follow,” Lee said. “It is nonsensical for the KMT to say that the plan [as a whole] had been passed within seconds.”
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