Wed, Jul 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Huang Kuo-chang pans NDC over debt forecasts, plagiarism

FORWARD-LOOKING?The NPP executive chairman said there is a large gap between the debt that is expected to accrue and the nation’s ability to repay it

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang yesterday arrives for a meeting of the first extraordinary session of the third legislative session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) yesterday berated the National Development Council (NDC) for apparently plagiarizing a scrapped 2009 proposal to “revitalize the economy by increasing investment in public works” when writing the proposal for the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

The Legislative Yuan yesterday continued to hold cross-caucus negotiations over the draft bill on the program, during which Huang asked NDC Minister Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝) why the figures in a passage on the overall economic benefits of the project were identical to figures in the 2009 proposal by the NDC’s predecessor, the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

Both reports say the projects would provide between 40,000 and 50,000 job opportunities, even though the 2009 project had a budget of NT$500 billion (US$16.38 billion at the current exchange rate) over four years and the forward-looking program has a budget of NT$882.49 billion over eight years.

The two reports are exactly the same, Huang said, adding that “even the punctuation is the same.”

Chen replied that reports written by civil servants “are not always different.”

NDC officials responsible for the report admitted that the estimate for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program was calculated using an outdated equation created for the 2009 proposal, Huang said, criticizing the NDC as “remiss and sloppy.”

Chen said the numbers were a “faithful” representation of the program’s projected results, prompting an angered Huang to slam his microphone on the table.

“The figure is definitely incorrect,” Huang said, repeating the remark several times, before demanding that Chen solve the problem.

Huang also said there is a disproportionate gap between the debt the government expects to accrue over the time frame set for the program and its ability to repay it.

According to the debt ceiling proposed in the Executive Yuan’s draft bill, debt incurred by the program every year should not exceed 15 percent of the government’s annual budget.

The program is expected to run up NT$660 billion of debt in eight years, bringing the national debt to NT$1.4 trillion in 2024, but the program is only expected to add NT$95.8 billion to tax revenue.

“How do you expect to offset the debt with this? How did you do the math?” Huang asked.

The cross-caucus negotiation later agreed on a draft article that says the budget for the plan is to be allocated through a special budgeting procedure.

However, the rest of the proceedings ended in stalemate, with the caucuses failing to even agree on what agencies should oversee the program and what the program’s major components should be.

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