Wed, Mar 27, 2002 - Page 3 News List

DPP legislators propose chopping Cabinet further

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

After the Government Reform Committee mapped out its preliminary blueprint for downsizing the Cabinet, DPP lawmakers yesterday proposed a different version, cutting the current number of 36 administrative entities further to 21, one or two less than that proposed by the committee.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is scheduled to make public the final blueprint for Cabinet downsizing on March 30. The final blueprint will then be sent to the Cabinet affairs meeting for approval before proceeding to the legislature for further review and final approval.

Addressing the press conference jointly held by DPP lawmakers Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) and Chen Chung-shin (陳忠信), Shen called on other legislative caucuses to present different proposals for discussion in the legislature.

"Although we support the Cabinet's initiative to map out the blueprint for the downsizing plan, the opinions of the legislative caucus shouldn't be left out," Shen said, adding that lawmakers across party lines have been excluded from the past six staff meetings of the committee.

Shen said that it would be a better idea for legislative caucuses to propose the downsizing plan.

"We'd be fairer and have less burden since we're not the one to be downsized," he said.

Chen dismissed talk that the move is intended for putting the Cabinet in an embarrassing position.

"We've been paying close attention to the issue for a long time," Chen said. "Although we recognize the direction of the preliminary blueprint, we thought it might need some adjustments."

In total, they proposed to trim the Cabinet's administrative entities from the current 36 down to 21, one or two less than that proposed by the reform committee.

One of the noteworthy will be the abolition of the Ministry of Education because they said universities should be made more autonomous and local governments should be granted supervision authorities over the compulsory education.

Other major differences between the two proposals include a Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports versus a Ministry of Culture and Sports proposed by the reform committee; a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade versus a Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and an Ethnic Commission versus Council for Hakka Affairs, Council of Aboriginal Affairs, and Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.

To better consolidate the Cabinet, Lin said, it would be a better idea to integrate the Council for Hakka Affairs, Council of Aboriginal Affairs, and Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission into one Ethnic Commission.

It would also be a more practical idea to integrate foreign affairs with international trade because it is hard to separate Taiwan's diplomacy from foreign trade.

"Taiwan has such a unique diplomatic situation that many foreign countries enjoy sound commercial interaction with Taiwan without the diplomatic ties," Lin said.

They also proposed to maintain the Vocational Assistance Commission for Retired Servicemen the way it is because it is a "by-product of a special time and space," Lin said.

The reform committee has not yet decided whether to upgrade the commission to a ministerial level.

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