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Wed, Sep 27, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Tang says Cabinet cannot nix nuke project

LEGAL CONTROVERSY Legal experts have countered, saying the Executive Yuan need only provide an alternative plan that would ensure sufficient energy

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Hsin-yi, left, and Premier Tang Fei yesterday respond to questioning about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant at the Legislative Yuan.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Tang Fei (唐飛) said yesterday the Executive Yuan had no standing to terminate the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant because the issue has to be managed in accordance with the law.

Anti-nuclear legislators and legal experts, however, said the legal basis to terminate the project lay in the Constitution, which takes precedence over the Budget Law.

Controversy over the legal basis to terminate the power plant project was stirred on Monday when Lin Chuan (林全), head of the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, said that Article 71 of the Budget Law, previously cited by Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) in connection with terminating the project, might not in fact allow the project to be terminated.

According to the article, the government may only stop drawing on a budget in the case of a national emergency. Whether the condition applies to the power plant case, however, is uncertain.

Lin's opinion was echoed yesterday by KMT officials, who are in favor of nuclear energy.

Answering legislators' questions, Premier Tang said yesterday that the Ministry of Economic Affairs was reviewing the final recommendation made by its Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Re-evaluation Committee (核四再評估委員會).

"No matter what suggestions are made by the Executive Yuan, they are only to give the DPP more information," said Tang, adding that the future of the plant would still be decided in accordance with the law.

Meanwhile, law professors urged yesterday that officials and legislators consider the issue based on both Article 70 of the Constitution, as well as Interpretation No. 391 of the Council of Grand Justices.

"The Executive Yuan will not break the law at all if it fails to execute an approved budget," said Chen Tzu-yang (陳慈陽), a law professor at National Taipei University, at a public forum held at the Legislative Yuan.

Taking the power plant project as an example, Chen said that all the Executive Yuan had to do was to give reasons for not executing the budget. Simply, the Executive Yuan has to explain how the original purpose of building the power plant -- to provide the public with sufficient power -- will be achieved by others means.

Anti-nuclear legislators said yesterday that the project had become a pawn in a political struggle.

"I regret the actions of some who stressed that there was no legal basis for halting the project," said KMT Legislator Jao Yung-ching (趙永清), who is taking a different stance from KMT partisans.

"They should have respected the suggestions of experts in the economic affairs ministry's task force for a review of the project," Jao said.

New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大) said the New Party was producing a pamphlet against the nuke project, which gives reasons from a variety of perspectives, ranging from law, economics and energy, to sustainable development.

The KMT, on the other hand, revealed yesterday the results of a survey on the public's attitude toward the project. KMT officials said that 55 percent of interviewees supported continuation of the project. In addition, KMT officials said, 55 percent of interviewees would not welcome higher electricity prices caused by the halt of the project.

The survey questioned 1,097 residents over the age of 20 in 24 administrative districts.

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