Thu, Mar 14, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Lien demands DPP solve fallow problem

SPEAKING OUT The KMT Chairman said his party has waited long enough for the government to solve the water-shortage problem, and that Christine Tsung should resign if she can't propose an effective solution

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

No longer holding his peace on the issue, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday criticized the DPP government for its incompetence in resolving the problem of water shortage that is threatening Taiwan today.

The KMT demanded that Minister of Economic Affairs Christine Tsung (宗才怡) put forth substantive measures and a timetable to resolve the problem, and Tsung should step down in case she fails to accomplish the job within the dateline.

Also, the party asked the government to raise the fallow compensation for affected farmers from NT$46,000 per hectare to at least NT$100,000 and make the payment by the end of March.

"The KMT hasn't made any immediate criticism against the government over the past weeks because we had expected the government to come up with a solution to the problem," Lien told the party's Central Standing Committee.

"But we still have no idea as of today as to how the government is to deal with the problem, with the exception of being told to 'wait for the rain to fall tomorrow,'" Lien added.

According to Lien, during the time when the KMT was in power, the government set up a system to estimate water reserves for the coming year based on the river discharge in November.

While a judgement of the water quantity required for the spring cultivation would be made ahead of time, the possible fallow area would be made known to farmers beforehand so that they could take the necessary precaution measures, Lien noted.

But this system appeared to have come to a stop, with the DPP busy campaigning for the legislative elections and slinging mud at the opposition parties last November and keeping all its mind on the reshuffling the Cabinet in January, Lien said.

"It only occurred to the government that it needed to coordinate the problem when the watermark reached its low in February," Lien said.

"And an abrupt announcement was made on March 1 that a fallow would be enforced in paddy fields in Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli areas after the rice seedlings had been transplanted," he added.

Lee Tsung-chi (李總集), chairman of the Taiwan Joint Irrigation Association (全國農田水利會聯合會) and a member of the Central Standing Committee, said Taiwan -- a country with an average rainfall of 2,000 to 2,500 millimeters per year -- has made itself an "international laughing stock" for facing problem of water shortage.

President Group CEO Kao Chin-yen (高清愿), another committee member, urged authorities concerned to clear the silt accumulated in reservoirs regularly to ensure the reservoirs are filled to capacity, as the silt has cost Taiwan water reserve tantamount to the capacity of the Mingteh Reservoir.

In other measures to cope with the problem yesterday, the KMT said it will press the government to investigate into the responsibilities of concerned officials and monitor the setting up of a reasonable ration standard for water supply to average families and the industrial sector.

The party's legislative caucus will put forth a motion requiring the government to earmark more money from its annual budget to speed up the establishment of an NT$150 billion agricultural development fund and another NT$100 billion relief fund for farmers suffering losses from competition from imported agricultural produce.

To resolve the water shortage faced by Hsinchu County and the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park, the KMT proposed that the government build a new reservoir in the area, while building an additional one in the central and southern areas, respectively.

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