Wed, Nov 10, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Call to block `money-hole bills'

LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGN The DPP's Central Standing Committee decided to raise the issue of pork-barrel legislation and make stopping it an election initiative

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced yesterday that it will try to stop the pan-blue camp from proposing the "money-hole bills" that would subsidize specific groups yet benefit few people, as long as the pan-green camp becomes the legislative majority in next month's elections.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) decided in the DPP's Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday that the party's legislative caucus should make more of an effort to stop unreasonable bills from being passed so that governmental bud-gets could be used more effectively.

His decision followed a special report presented by Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Director-General Hsu Chang-yao(許璋瑤).

"Governmental budgets should be distributed evenly and reasonably. We would never agree that budgets should be sharply increased just because of certain political parties' interests," Chen said.

According to DPP Deputy Secretary-General Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱), over the past three years, the pan-blue camp's legislative caucus has continuously proposed bills aimed at reducing the government's revenues and increasing its expenditures.

The DPP legislative caucus dubbed these proposals "money-hole bills."

According to the DGBAS' estimates, opposition parties have proposed about 31 bills that would cost the government about NT$160 billion just to administer such legislation if they became law.

DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the money-hole bills appeal to specific ethnic groups and would cost a huge amount of money annually, such as "compensation for retired officers who rendered services in anti-communist national salvation," or "retirement pensions for army and navy officers."

"If all these money-hole bills were passed, each person would have to pay NT$70,000 more in taxes, which is quite unfair." Tsai said.

On the other hand, Chung said, the pan-blue camp is continuing to boycott the NT$610.8 billion (US$18.6 billion) arms procurement budget that could protect national security by saying that the arms sales would burden the treasury and cut into educational or social welfare budgets. He said that complaint was just a pretext to justify their irrational boycott.

In the committee meeting, senior officials suggested two measures to prevent money-hole bills from being proposed in the future.

One measure would be for the DPP caucus to propose a constitutional amendment modeled on the 40th article of France's Constitution. That article allows the central government to refuse to administer legislation or amendments that would reduce public revenues or increase public expenditures.

The measure would be for the caucus to propose revising the Law Governing Legislators' Exercise of Power (立法院職權行使法), regulating that bills conflict with Article 91 of the Budget Law (預算法) or Article 38-1 of the Law Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法). Both those articles stipulate that when legislators propose a bill that involves major increases in tax expenditures or decreases in annual revenues, they must first obtain the Cabinet's opinion and clearly identify an offsetting tax source.

"These two proposals will be included in our campaign advertisements as new themes for the legislative elections," Chung said.

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