Lawmakers yesterday attacked a decision by the Executive Yuan to use NT$9 billion earmarked for the decommissioning of nuclear power stations on the severance pay of laid-off employees of a state-run company.
Lawmakers led by independent Sisy Chen (陳文茜) yesterday pressed malfeasance charges with the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office against former premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) and former minister of economic affairs Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) over the matter.
Other lawmakers proposed referring Lin Hsin-yi and Lin Wen-yuan (林文淵), vice chairman of the Commission of National Corporations, to the Control Yuan for investigation.
Lin Hsin-yi, who took over as vice premier and chairman of the Council of Economic Planning and Development in February, said he had no comment on the lawmakers' plan to refer him to the Control Yuan.
He insisted that the decision, made in January, was made in accordance with law.
The issue was raised in a joint meeting of the Economics and Energy Committee and Budget and Final Accounts Committee, held to review the budget of the funds from which the money was appropriated.
Lawmakers Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and Chiu Yi (邱毅) from the PFP and Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) and Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) from the KMT argued that the Executive Yuan's decision was unlawful because the money was not spent in accordance with the budget's purposes.
Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) said the NT$120 billion fund was mainly earmarked for the demolition and disposal of the three existing nuclear power plants, and the money would not be needed until the power plants had ceased operation.
For this reason, the ministry proposed to the Cabinet in January that the fund be used for the severance pay of employees dismissed by the China Shipbuilding Corp (CSC), Yin said.
Yin said that, according to the Budget Law, money from this kind of fund can be spent after the purpose of the spending has been approved by the Cabinet.
Yin said the CSC will return the money, along with interest, to the fund in the future.
However, Chiu said the ministry had misinterpreted the Budget Law, because a fund earmarked for a special purpose cannot be spent on other purposes.
The CSC laid off 2,342 employees in December last year under a project to "revive" the enterprise.
The severance payments for these dismissed employees, which totaled NT$9.16 billion, had to be made by January this year.
Lacking the funds to pay -- and facing protests from the dismissed employees, the CSC asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs for help in finding the money.