Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 3 News List

DPP may focus only on flood budget

CROSS-PARTY TALKS The party may be willing to defer other items, such as the special arms budget, to September if the opposition agrees to a special session

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the second round of cross-party negotiations on a special legislative session scheduled for today, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus yesterday conceded that it might consider agreeing to tackle only the eight-year, NT$80 billion (US$2.5 billion) flood-control project during the session.

"Our bottom line is to see the extraordinary legislative session happen," DPP caucus whip Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) said. "We hope opposition parties will agree to screen as many bills as possible during the session. However, we do not rule out the possibility of making a concession."

If the opposition parties insist on addressing only the flood-prevention package during the special session, Jao said that his caucus would like the legislature then meet in the beginning of September and designate as a priority the arms-procurement plan and confirmation of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) candidates for the Control Yuan, instead of letting the Procedure Committee decide their fate.

If today's cross-party meeting fails to bear fruit, Jao said that his caucus would request a showdown vote to decide whether to hold an extraordinary session.

The DPP caucus has been trying to convince the opposition parties to hold a provisional legislative session to screen six bills it deems urgent.

They are the flood-prevention package, the arms-procurement plan, confirmation of Control Yuan members, the organic bill governing the supervision and management committee of the labor retirement fund, amendments to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) and amendments to the Tobacco and Liquor Law (菸酒稅法).

Government officials will deliver a report on its flood-control plan before today's cross-party negotiations.

Although Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) has said that he does not think it is necessary for Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to attend today's briefing, Hsieh is planning to participate in the negotiations.

Jao said that he believed that opposition lawmakers will eventually agree to hold a special session because the last legislative session was the shortest in history.

"It'll make us look bad if we continue to get paid with taxpayers' money but don't do anything during the summer recess," he said.

The last session was cut short because of the National Assembly election and dissolution.

While the KMT caucus has requested an apology from the DPP government over its flood-control efforts over the past five years, Jao yesterday still refused to budge, saying that the government's short-term flood-fighting measures after Typhoon Haitang have proven effective, especially in Sijhih (汐止), Jhonghe (中和) and Yonghe (永和) cities in Taipei County.

"Besides, the apology has nothing to do with us because they have specifically asked for an apology from the government," he said.

KMT Legislator Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) yesterday said that his caucus will send representatives to today's briefing and cross-party talks, but they have not decided whether to support the special session.

"Our decision will hinge on the content of the report," he said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday said that both he and KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), who returned from a trip overseas yesterday, had agreed that the party will conditionally support the special session.

Claiming that the special session is neither necessary nor urgent, People First Party (PFP) Legislator and Director of Policy Research Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) said his caucus will not attend the cross-party meeting and that it doesn't endorse a provisional session.

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