Tue, Mar 12, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Executive Yuan proposes cuts in interest spending

SHORTFALL While the idea would reduce a NT$68.5 billion shortfall by NT$10 billion, it remains to be seen where the additional NT$58.5 billion would come from

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

The executive and legislative branches yesterday moved a step closer to finding a resolution to a NT$68.5 billion shortfall in the fiscal 2002 budget, after the Cabinet agreed to cut its interest spending to narrow the gap.

However, as the government will only be able to reduce interest spending by some NT$10 billion, the Cabinet was expecting the legislature to help pass a supplementary budget to settle the rest of the shortfall, some NT$58.5 billion.

Cabinet Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) and Lin Chuan (林全), head of the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, raised the proposal during a visit to legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

According to Wang, the Cabinet's proposal will be presented for discussion during an inter-party negotiation today, in the hope that common ground can be found among lawmakers.

In addition to cutting interest spending, Lee and Lin also proposed decreasing personnel, business and labor insurance expenses to help balance the budget.

This proposal was rejected by Wang, who in turn suggested cutting the privatization operation fund by NT$5 billion and a secondary reserve fund by NT$10 billion.

Wang said that the legislature is trying to assist the Cabinet in solving the problem, but that it is unlikely the legislature would pass another resolution to replace the one under which the Cabinet is required to adjust its spending to resolve the shortfall.

As the Cabinet failed to ask the legislature to reconsider its decision before the legal deadline, the Executive Yuan will have to carry out the resolution, Wang said.

In what was considered by opposition lawmakers as contempt for the Legislative Yuan, the Cabinet has ignored the resolution, passed by the legislature in January, and taken no action to balance the budget over the past two months.

Budget shortfall

* The Cabinet says that it would cut its interest spending by NT$10 billion, but that the legislature must pass a supplementary budget to cover the rest.

* The legislative speaker rejected the supplementary budget idea, saying the deadline for such a plan had passed.

Some opposition lawmakers have threatened to refer Lin to the Control Yuan for investigation unless the Cabinet does something to deal with the problem soon.

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