Fri, Jul 12, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Caucuses set rules for special budget session

COOPERATION The four legislative caucuses agreed to consider the Cabinet's request for NT$31.6 billion to pay for flood-prevention measures along the Keelung River

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng, left, meets TSU Legislator Chen Cheng-lung, right, and DPP legislators Lai Chin-lin, second right, Chou Ya-shu, center, and Wang Tuoh yesterday before discussing the special session to review the Cabinet's additional budget for flood control along the Keelung River.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Leaders from the four legislative caucuses yesterday set rules for a three-day special session that will start on Monday with a speech from Premier Yu Shyi-kun on his request for additional budget funds.

Seeking to avoid partisan rivalry, the caucuses left open a KMT proposal to add some NT$1.9 billion to the special budget intended to pay for flood-prevention measures along the Keelung River.

"Setting aside our differences, all caucuses agreed to a special session" prompted by the Cabinet's request for NT$31.6 billion in extra funding, TSU legislative leader Chen Cheng-lung (程振隆) said.

The Cabinet filed the request one week before the legislature broke up for summer recess on June 21. Preoccupied by the confirmation vote on various appointments for key government posts, the body decided not to take up the issue.

The premier has been invited to deliver a 30-minute address to the legislature on how he plans to use the money when the special session begins on Monday, Chen said.

Yu will then take questions from 17 lawmakers from across party lines, according to the cross-party consensus.

The 86km-long Keelung River is prone to flooding when heavy rains hit northern Taiwan, a problem that has been aggravated by deforestation of hillside areas in recent years.

To win support for the budget, newly installed Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) has paid personal visits to all four legislative caucuses.

It remains unclear if the Cabinet will volunteer to attach NT$1.9 billion to the special budget as recommended by the caucuses.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said that the money is necessary to prevent potential flooding caused by the segment of the Keelung River under his administration.

Citing financial difficulties, the central government has put Ma's demand on the backburner.

The KMT caucus has asked DPP legislative leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) to help mediate the controversy.

The legislature is slated to hold a committee review of the special budget request on Tuesday and give its final approval on Wednesday.

The two opposition parties have said they will give their go-ahead even if the Cabinet insists on denying Ma's proposal.

"For an issue of this nature, no party dares to withhold its consent," KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said.

"Hopefully, the Cabinet will come around and amend the budget on its own accord," Huang said.

Aware that the public is tired of partisan bickering, the four caucuses agreed not to call a vote on the budget.

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