Thu, Jan 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blues halt negotiations on high-profile bills

DELAYPan-blue camp legislators withdrew from cross-party negotiations on several bills, saying that opposition lawmakers had been pressured to boycott today's legislative sitting

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cross-party negotiations on various bills broke down yesterday as the pan-blue camp accused the government of threatening opposition lawmakers to boycott today's legislative sitting.

The breakdown in negotiations poses a threat to the passage of several high-profile bills, such as the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法), the Financial Restructuring Fund and the reduced Land Value Incremental Tax, as well as the annual budget, all of which are still awaiting further negotiations.

If these bills are not approved today or tomorrow, they will have to be resubmitted by the new Cabinet to the next legislature.

The pan-blue caucuses yesterday accused several ministers, including Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三), Director-General of the Cabinet's Central Personnel Administration Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) and Director of the Coast Guard Administration Syu Huei-you (許惠祐), of pressuring opposition lawmakers to boycott today's sitting so that the government's bills would not be disadvantaged by conflicting votes.

The pan-blue caucuses then announced that they were withdrawing from the cross-party negotiations.

Although Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) scheduled another negotiation session for 9:30am today, it is unknown whether the pan-blue camp would attend this session.

Meanwhile, the opposition camp still insists on cutting about NT$100 billion from the government's proposed income in the annual budget for this year. There will be 44 sub-plans to be voted on in today's sitting.

The only good news for the Democratic Progressive Party yesterday was that the caucuses finally reached an agreement on the amendment to the Special Statute for Increasing Investment in Public Construction (擴大公共建設投資特別條例), which would allow the Minister of Education to spend NT$50 billion more on the program to promote top universities and research centers.

The DPP caucus yesterday proposed holding an interim legislative session to review and approve the nominations for new Control Yuan members and possibly handle the NT$610.8 billion (US$19.2 billion) US arms deal. The pan-blue camp said it was not interested in the proposal.

DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that the legislature's failure to review and approve the nominations of new Control Yuan members in this session would create a vacuum on Feb. 1 which would result in the inability of over 30,000 people to write national exams, since these exams could not go ahead without Control Yuan members monitoring them.

Wang said that there would be some solution to this problem, but whether an interim session should be held has to be jointly decided by all caucuses.

Wang proposed that the new legislature start work before Feb. 1 to review the nominations.

Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) last night responded by saying said that it was a natural practice for government officials to lobby and negotiate with lawmakers to gain their support for government budgets.

(Additional reporting by staff reporter Ko Shu-ling)

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