Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday that the Legislative Yuan should have a rational debate on the major arms procurement plan from the US.
He was referring to the Executive Yuan proposed special budget of NT$610.8 (US$18.45 billion) to buy six batteries of Patriot-III missiles, eight diesel-fueled submarines and a squadron of 12 anti-submarine aircraft.
The premier said that if the opposition parties support the plan but have different views on the price and items of the procurement, they can debate them in the legislature, instead of trying to block the plan through procedural measures.
Yu also said that a rational debate on the plan has been blocked from taking place because the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) does not control a majority in the 225-seat legislature, adding that if the party can win enough seats in the Dec. 11 elections, then holding a debate on the plan won't be a problem.
A bill authorizing the arms purchase plan failed to be put on the agenda for legislative review earlier this week, dealing a heavy blow to the DPP's hope to have it reviewed before the month-long recess that begins Nov. 10 ahead of the legislative elections.
Stressing the need for the arms purchase to defend national security, Yu said he's worried that if Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng won't coordinate a Procedure Committee meeting in the legislature, there won't be a chance for a rational debate on the arms purchase plan ahead of the elections.
Yu yesterday also said the "Challenge 2008" Six-Year National Development Plan is aimed at strengthening Taiwan's competitive edge to counter Beijing's suppression against Taiwan in the international community.
Yu made the remarks at a symposium sponsored by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) at the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung City to explain to the public the achievements so far under the government's drive to promote the national development plan.
Stressing that the plan is designed to make Taiwan stronger and to further reach out to the world amid Beijing's oppression on many fronts, Yu said that if Taiwan does nothing, it will become an outcast in the international community by the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
According to the premier, the six-year national development plan has seven targets, and some of the aims have already been met since it was launched two years ago. He added that he is confident that more of the targets will be reached ahead of schedule.
The main goals contained in the plan are cultivating talent for the so-called "e-generation," developing the cultural creativity industry, developing an industrial base for research and innovation, increasing value-added production, doubling the number of tourist arrivals, building a digital Taiwan, making Taiwan an operations center, improving transportation infrastructure, conserving the ecology and water resources and constructing new communities.
The government hopes to create at least 700,000 job opportunities, maintain an annual economic growth rate of more than 5 percent, lower the jobless rate to below 4 percent and sign up more than 6 million broadband subscribers, he added.
Taichung County Magistrate Huang Chung-sheng (