Tue, Sep 03, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers bicker at session sign-up

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

TSU legislators, from left to right, Hsu Den-koun, Liao Pen-yan and Ho Min-hao wear paper signs, which read ``Oppose offshore banking units! Down with Lee Yung-san,'' in the legislature yesterday to demand that the finance minister step down.


The summer lull in the partisan fighting over various policy issues will soon come to an end as lawmakers started signing up for the new session yesterday.

The TSU, the tiny ally of the DPP, demanded that Minister of Finance Lee Yung-san (李庸三) step down, accusing him of seeking to help businesspeople invest in China with money "robbed" from Taiwanese banks.

Meanwhile, the KMT called on the Cabinet to voluntarily take back next year's budget, which it said is full of deceiving figures meant to hide the nation's financial troubles.

Jumping on the bandwagon, the PFP vowed to give the administration a rough ride when the budgetary review begins later this month.

During a collective registration, legislators from the TSU said they oppose offshore banking unit (OBU) operations proposed by the finance ministry to help local investors conduct business in China.

"Oppose OBU! Down with Lee Yung-san," they chanted.

Earlier, the Ministry of Finance indicated it is mulling introducing the OBU mechanism in line with a consensus reached by last year's Economic Development Advisory Conference.

But TSU legislative leader Su Ying-kwei (蘇盈貴) said his party would never agree to any efforts to help Taiwanese businesspeople secure loans for investment in China.

"Such a practice, if allowed, would encourage investors to migrate to China and leave their debts in Taiwan," Su said.

Fellow TSU Legislator Liao Pen-yan (廖本煙) echoed the concern, noting that the ministry will have difficulty collecting its loans if those businessmen default on their debt payments.

Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘), another TSU lawmaker, suggested that China-bound investors seek loans from Beijing authorities instead, but added that his party is not against other OBU operations.

Because an executive order would suffice to carry out the OBU plan, the fledgling party threatened to sap the ministry's power through legal revisions, if necessary.

In addition, the 12-member caucus said it would continue pushing for a referendum law that allows the people to have the final say on major policy disputes, political and economic.

The KMT, on the other hand, accused the DPP administration of manipulating the figures when preparing next year's budget and urged the Cabinet to withdraw the plan on its own accord.

According to KMT Legislator Wang Chun-yu (王鍾渝), public debt incurred by governments at all levels amounts to NT$4.776 trillion rather than the NT$3 trillion as claimed in the bill. The amount has exceeded the ceiling allowed by law, he added.

KMT Legislator Cheng Feng-shih (鄭逢時) warned the government to brace for bankruptcy if it insists on churning out pork-barrel legislation.

"The government must quit playing Santa Claus at the [expense of the] nation's financial health," he said.

Recently, the Cabinet said it would extend the senior-citizen stipend to retired workers with money earmarked for the national pension program.

The KMT, though supportive of expanding the NT$3,000-per-month allowance to more groups, frowns on the proposal to borrow money from the national pension fund.

The PFP said it would play the bad cop during the budgetary review in light of the low efficiency with which the government executed last year's budget. PFP legislative leader Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧) cited official statistics that show various government agencies failed to carry out their spending programs for last year.

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