After two days of staff meetings, the Government Reform Committee finished its preliminary blueprint for downsizing the Cabinet.
The proposal will cut the Cabinet from its current level of 36 administrative entities to 22 or 23 entities.
The proposal will be put before the full-member conference of the Government Reform Committee on March 30 chaired by President Chen Shui-bian (
Though the committee is just a temporary body established by the president, approval at the March 30 meeting will mean these measures will be voted upon by the Legislative Yuan.
Government reform was one of President Chen's major campaign promises and he has announced that the reform committee will submit a complete proposal before the end of March.
Though some members of the reform committee expressed strong disagreement during the last staff meeting, the final staff meeting reached a conclusion yesterday.
"The past six staff meetings have established a major consensus," said Secretary General to the President Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), who chaired yesterday's meeting, "but the final blueprint will be passed in March 30's conference."
According to yesterday's conclusion, the current eight ministries and two commissions in the Cabinet will be increased to 14 ministries and two or three commissions.
The new ministries will include a Ministry of Cultural and Sports Affairs, a Ministry of Agricultural Affairs, a Ministry of Maritime Affairs, a Ministry of Labor and Human Resources, a Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and a Ministry of Environmental Resources.
These ministries will be formed by the amalgamation and upgrading of administrative bodies, such as the Council for Cultural Affairs, the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Environmental Protection Administration, already in existence.
The project of government reorganization will also create six independent committees which, according to the secretary general to the president, "committee chiefs will not have to attend Cabinet meetings."
"The purpose of these newly created independent committees is that they can exercise their authority based on their professional skills, independent position and justice," said Chen.
The proposed six committees will include, the Fair Trade Commission, the Central Bank, the Central Election Commission, the Nuclear Security Commission, the Public Transportation Security Commission, the National Development Commission, and the Science and Technology Commission.
The most noteworthy addition to the ministerial structure will be the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, which has long been proposed by the DPP.
"As an island nation, we should both develop and protect our maritime resources. In order to develop our fishery industries and bring Taiwan into line with international maritime laws and conventions requires a organization dedicated to these tasks. This is the reason for the creation of this ministry," Chen said.
It also has been decided to upgrade the Vocational Assistance Commission for Retired Servicemen to the ministerial level.
"To carry out the government's promise to take care of retired servicemen, we will not dismiss this agency but enhance its function," Chen said.
"To upgrade this commission to the ministerial level will show that the government sincerely respects those servicemen's contributions," he added.