Tue, Oct 21, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet thumbs nose at legislature

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan refused to comply with the legislature's request to adjust its annual spending plan yesterday.

The Cabinet instead submitted an explanatory note in the hope that opposition lawmakers would change their mind and resume the budgetary review.

"We hope the legislature will start reviewing the budget plan as soon as possible in accordance with the Constitution," said Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳).

Taking advantage of their numerical edge, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), People First Party (PFP) and independent lawmakers voted last Tuesday in favor of a motion to shelve review of the government's annual budget.

The opposition bloc also requested the Cabinet submit an amended spending plan by yesterday, claiming that certain outlays lack a legal foundation.

Stating that the request is unconstitutional and illegal, the Cabinet argued that the legislature is not permitted to request that it increase spending while reviewing the annual budget.

The Cabinet also said that the request encroaches on the government's authority and jeopardizes the relationship between the executive and legislative branches.

Liu yesterday called on the legislature to convene cross-party negotiations to discuss the draft bill of the five-year, NT$500 billion public-construction project, which the Cabinet approved last Wednesday and sent to the legislature.

The draft, should it be approved by the legislature, earmarks a special budget of NT$500 billion over the next five years.

The fund, which would be exempt from the Budget Law (預算法) and Public Debt Law (公債法), would be used to invest in public-construction projects designed to improve the nation's competitiveness and increase job opportunities.

The draft also stipulates that the government may either borrow money or sell stakes in state-owned enterprises to obtain the funding.

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