Wed, Aug 31, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet, DPP caucus set priorities

BY KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the legislature due to open on Sept. 13, the Democratic Progres-sive Party (DPP) legislative caucus and the Executive Yuan reached a consensus yesterday to make the arms-procurement budget as well as 17 other bills priority bills for the next session.

"All 18 priority bills are important, urgent and meet the public's expectations," DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said. "We hope the opposition parties will help pass all 18 bills during the next session."

The 18 bills include the flood-control bill, draft amendments to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法), the organic bill of the national communications commission, the organic bill of the supervisory and management commission of the labor retirement fund, confirmation of the president's (陳水扁) Control Yuan appointments and amendments to the Referendum Law (公民投票法).

The Executive Yuan also sent copies of next year's policy plan and annual budget to the legislature yesterday.

The executive branch is planning to continue the six-year "challenge 2008" national development plan and the new 10 major construction projects, which are aimed at building the country into a democratic and prosperous society and making the nation the most competitive in Asia.

To that end, the government will focus on six main areas, including resuming cross-strait dialogue, popularizing civil diplomacy and consolidating national peace and security; and continuing its restructuring efforts to establish a clean and efficient government.

The Executive Yuan estimated next year's annual revenues will be NT$1.4 trillion, while annual expenditures will be NT$1.5 trillion.

The projected expenditures represents a 0.5 percent decrease compared with this year, while the annual income is 5.3 percent more than this year.

Of the projected expenditure, NT$323 billion, or 20.2 percent of the total, is earmarked for educational, cultural and scientific purposes. Social welfare spending accounts for 18.5 percent, or NT$296 billion, while national defense expenditures amount to 15.9 percent, or NT$253 billion -- a 1.6 percent increase over this year's spending.

In other news, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucuses voiced support yesterday for a proposed minimum tax scheme, scheduled to be approved by the Cabinet today.

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said he hopes the government would stick to its plan, which he described as "conducive to social justice."

TSU caucus whip David Huang (黃適卓) said that the caucus supports the minimum tax idea, but thinks the additional revenues should go to balance the deficit and social welfare spending.

The Executive Yuan and DPP caucus on Monday agreed on the terms for a minimum tax scheme: a 10 percent tax on industries and 20 percent tax on individuals.

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