Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Taichung City, county to be one municipality?

DRAFT BILL PASSED Under the proposed new law, the two entities would become one, under direct control of the central government, if the legislature approves

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taichung County and City may see themselves upgraded to a single municipality under direct control of the central government in the wake of the Executive Yuan approving the draft bill of an administrative zoning law (行政區劃法) yesterday, pending final approval by the legislature.

Addressing a press conference after the weekly closed-door Cabinet meeting, Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) said that the bill was designed to set down procedures for the adjustment of administrative zoning with the aim to establish a two-tier government system.

"To successfully upgrade the administrative status of a local government, the potential constituency has to go through three stages: proposition, review of the proposition and final decision," he said.

Instead of letting the central government dictate the adjustment of administrative zoning, Yeh said the draft would empower local governments to take the initiative to file such a request, pending the final approval of the Cabinet or ratification by the legislature.

Local governments would also be empowered to dominate the adjustment of administrative zoning of the cities, townships and villages under their jurisdiction.

A committee of between 11 and 25 members would be set up under the law to review upgrade proposals.

While the Executive Yuan would have the final say, Yeh said that the final decision would need ratification by the legislature if the population of the applicant exceeds 12 million, land area exceeds 18,000km2 or the number of counties and cities involved exceeds 13.

Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said the draft is not designed for any particular county or city, but for the overall development of the nation's administrative areas.

"Although President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) made an election promise to upgrade the administrative status of Taichung County and Taichung City, the draft is not custom-made for any specific constituency," Lin quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying.

Chen made three promises to Taichung residents in the run-up to the presidential election in 2000.

These were to upgrade Taichung City to a municipality under direct control of the central government, open an international airport and build a science-based industrial park in the region.

To be eligible for this upgrading, Taichung City, with a population of about 1 million, has to have 1.25 million residents according to the Law on Local Government Systems (地方制度法).

The city has reached a consensus with Taichung County, which has a population of 1.5 million, to integrate into a single constituency to become eligible for an upgrade.

Commenting on the Cabinet's approval of the draft yesterday, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) said that the city was happy and hopes the draft clears the legislature as soon as possible.

"Taichung City and county are like egg white and egg yolk and it's only to our advantage to integrate into one entity because it would not only enable us to upgrade to a municipality but also helps boost prosperity in central Taiwan," Hu said.

Taichung County Commissioner Huang Chung-sheng (黃仲生) said that the county is more than happy to integrate with Taichung City but hopes the county's wishes would be taken into consideration while the Cabinet reviews the application.

"I'd like to see all of the county's 21 townships, towns and cities included in the new constituency," Huang said.

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