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Sun, Jan 16, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Some satisfaction for 921 disaster measures

EARTHQUAKEWith the six-month Emergency Decree due to expire at the end of March, a Temporary Statute for Post-disaster Reconstruction has been passed

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

A law which is crucial to all reconstruction works in 921 quake-affected regions -- the Temporary Statute for Post-disaster Reconstruction (九二一震災重建暫行條例) -- was passed early yesterday.

After long negotiations, the statute has incorporated many articles suggested by the National Alliance for Post-earthquake Reconstruction (全國民間災後重建監督聯盟), a civilian alliance comprised of some 60 social welfare groups.

The alliance expressed its appreciation of the legislative process.

But the law is not entirely satisfactory, said representatives of the 921 Earthquake Victims Alliance (九二一大地震受災戶聯盟).

According to the law, the government will not take over all housing loan debts of 921 quake victims. Instead, a preferential rated housing loan will be provided.

With President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) six-month Emergency Decree due to expire at the end of March, the statute is designed to provide a legal basis regulating all reconstruction works in disaster areas over the next five years.

One week after the Cabinet forwarded its draft to the legislature in late November, the National Alliance for Post-earthquake Reconstruction, DPP legislator Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智), the DPP and the New Party had all sent in their versions of the bill.

The passed bill was an integration of those versions, said Hsieh Chih-cheng (謝志誠), vice director of the alliance.

After more than 10 rounds of negotiations in 45 days, an integrated draft was sent to the floor last Monday. But at yesterday's legislature review, passage of the law was postponed until 4am, due to KMT legislators' insistence on placing a higher priority on national defense-related laws, DPP legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said.

A major achievement of the passage, Hsieh said, was that several new preferential measures for victims' housing problems were included.

Building reconstruction will be rewarded with 30 percent more of the floor area ratio. Residents of apartments or mansions that saw more than five deaths during the September quake will be allowed to exchange for a new plot of land to rebuild their houses.

Residents of toppled buildings will be able to apply for new loans using their old land as a guarantee. For new loans the Central Bank will cover the interest of NT$1.5 million; for loans over NT$1.5 million, an interest rate of 3 percent will be charged.

The law also mandates that those in temporary pre-fab houses be allowed to extend their stay for an extra year, from the three years allowed under the original plan.

According to Hsieh, the law has also incorporated chapters on life rehabilitation and cultural heritage reconstruction that were proposed in the alliance's draft version.

Those chapters include various measures for the care of orphans, psychological counseling projects and special aid for Aboriginal communities.

But for Chen Hui-Tze (陳惠澤), chairman of the 921 Earthquake Victims Alliance, the passage of the bill was only acceptable rather than satisfying.

He said their demands to incorporate an article for the government to cover the residents' debts and recoup the debts from building developers had failed.

"Although the preferential interests rates indeed help alleviate the burden of loans, I feel that social justice is still not realized," he said.

He said during the negotiation process, legislators from the DPP and the New Party had spent more effort on the law, while the KMT legislators had been absent at many of the meetings.

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