Thu, Mar 28, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Budget dispute comes to an end

FINANCIAL SHORTFALL The executive and legislative branches have resolved a two month-old battle with an agreement they feel will stabilize the political climate

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan announced yesterday that the executive and legislative branches have finally reached a consensus over a NT$68.5 billion shortfall in the fiscal 2002 budget.

The Cabinet has agreed to cut business expenses, interest spending and the secondary reserve fund.

Addressing a press conference after the weekly closed-door Cabinet affairs meeting yesterday morning, Cabinet spokesperson Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) said that the success of the negotiation between the two branches set a sound example for future negotiations.

"It's a win-win situation for both the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan because reasonable negotiations not only help stabilize the political climate but also set a healthy example of communication," Chuang quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying.

To resolve the NT$68.5 billion shortfall, the Cabinet agreed to cut over NT$1.4 billion in business expenses, NT$65.7 billion in interest spending and NT$1.3 billion of the secondary reserve fund.

The resolution is expected to put an end to the two-month dispute because the inter-party negotiation held on March 22 agreed to authorize legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Premier Yu Shyi-kun to hammer out a resolution over the controversy.

Lawmakers across party lines also agreed to respect the final resolution reached by the heads of the two branches.

Accusing the Cabinet of over-estimating the nation's revenue, the opposition-dominated legislature trimmed its forecast by NT$81.2 billion when passing the NT$1.6 trillion budget in January.

But the legislature only cut projected spending by NT$12.7 billion, leaving a shortfall of NT$68.5 billion.

The legislature's resolution requested that the Cabinet adjust its spending plans to resolve the shortfall. Also, the Cabinet is prohibited from using surpluses from previous fiscal years, selling assets and incurring debts to fill the gap, the resolution stated.

Lin Chuan (林全), head of the Cabinet's Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, explained that the Executive Yuan cannot carry out the legislature's resolution because the Budget Law does not empower the Cabinet to cut the budget on its own.

Opposition lawmakers, on the other hand, threatened to refer Lin to the Control Yuan for ignoring the legislative resolution and taking no action to balance the budget.

During the March 12 meeting between Wang, Lin and Cabinet Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), the Cabinet proposed to cut its interest spending by some NT$10 billion and decrease personnel, business and labor insurance expenses to help balance the budget.

This proposal, however, 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.

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