Tue, Mar 05, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Government statistician Lin Chuan given rough ride

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Opposition lawmakers gave top government statistician Lin Chuan (林全) a rough ride during a committee hearing yesterday, faulting him for failing to balance the budget in contempt of legislative oversight.

Lin, at whose advice the Cabinet earlier moved to veto the disputed amendments to funding rules, welcomed lawmakers to seek a constitutional redress, saying he found it difficult to close the gap in line with the terms laid out by the legislature.

At issue is a budgetary shortfall of NT$68.5 for this year for which the Cabinet is prohibited from filling with surplus revenues or public bonds. The legislature attached the ban in a resolution to the budget bill at the end of last legislative session.

"The Cabinet, when finding the resolution difficult to comply with, should seek to overturn it rather than ignore it altogether," said Thomas Lee (李桐豪), a lawmaker from the PFP. "By adopting the latter option, the Cabinet shows contempt for the legislature."

On Jan. 18, the legislature trimmed NT$12 billion, or 0.7 percent, from the planned spending of NT$1.58 trillion for the current fiscal year. The then KMT-dominated body, however, cut NT$80.5 billion from the projected revenues and required the Cabinet in a resolution to balance the accounts to ensure the nation's financial health.

The executive branch has said it would request extra funding later this year to solve the dispute, which it notes may also be settled with surplus revenues at the end of the fiscal year.

Lin, head of the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, said he agreed to a balanced budget but added that the Cabinet had no obligation to abide by a legislative resolution whose legality is in question.

"The Cabinet is not obligated to obey the resolution, which by barring the use of surplus funds or public bonds to fill the gap, stands in violation of the budgetary codes," Lin said.

He suggested the legislature take the initiative and alter the resolution to end the stalemate instead.

Norman Ying (殷乃平), another PFP lawmaker, disagreed, saying the Cabinet can only ask for extra funding when the spending it proposed earlier proves insufficient later in the fiscal year.

"No foreseeable concerns may justify a request of additional funds," he said, adding that the Cabinet must turn in all surplus revenues to the state coffers, if there are any.

Ying said the PFP is mulling referring Lin to the Control Yuan for investigation or asking the Council of Grand Justices to rule on the constitutionality of what he called the Cabinet's arrogance.

KMT lawmaker Her Jyh-huei (何智輝) accused Lin of spearheading a campaign against Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), saying it accounted for Lin's push for the Cabinet veto on the funding rules that would have given the capital city more funds.

Lin denied any political motivation and welcomed lawmakers to take the newest row to the constitutional court.

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