Sat, Sep 03, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh `happy to beg' for flood bill

BY JIMMY CHUANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has again urged lawmakers to organize an extraordinary session and pass his NT$80 billion (US$2.5 billion) budget for anti-flood construction projects.

"The sooner we have the budget approved, the sooner we can begin our work," Hsieh said yesterday. "We thank heaven that Typhoon Talim did not cause too many deaths or losses and flooding. But that does not mean we do not need the budget for necessary construction work."

The premier cited the disaster in New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf Coast to support his position. He said the US Congress had launched its next session earlier than scheduled because congress members need time to work on a US$10.5 billion budget to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"If US congress members can do it, then maybe we can, too," he said.

Hsieh said the NT$80 billion budget would also help generate more economic activity because construction and a safer environment would attract more foreign investment.

"The year-end elections [for city mayors and county commissioners] are approaching. We do hope that this issue will not become a target that opposition politicians take advantage of to attack us. If that is the case, then this bill will likely continue to be held up in the legislature, which will be of use to no-one," he said.

"This has nothing to do with elections," Hsieh said. "I believe that my fellow lawmakers know this better than I do. So let's stop arguing over political issues and get this done for the public as soon as possible. I would be more than happy to beg anyone, if that helps."

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday said the legislature was likely to review bills concerning the budget as well as the arms-procurement package.

But whether the bill passes is a different matter, Wang warned.

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