Thu, Jan 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers set to vote on casinos

SHOWDOWN Lawmakers failed to reach an agreement yesterday, forcing a vote on a law that would legalize casino developments on the nation's outlying islands

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The stage is set for a showdown tomorrow over the Outlying Islands Development Law (離島建設條例), which would legalize casinos on outlying islands such as Penghu, Kinmen or Matsu.

The showdown has been called because a cross-party negotiating session chaired by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday morning to discuss amendments to the law and revisions to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) were fruitless.

Party negotiators could not see eye to eye on modifications to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan, which would decide the names of the Executive Yuan's 15 ministries, six commissions and five independent institutions.

Another round of cross-party talks on the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan has been arranged for tomorrow.

If a consensus can be reached, amendments to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan will then proceed to second and third readings. Once the amendments have become law, legislators hope to implement the revisions on Jan. 1, 2008.

At issue is whether to include the downsized Taiwan Provincial Government in the law and whether to let the Financial Supervisory Commission set financial policies.

While party negotiators agreed to establish an ocean affairs agency, they could not decide whether to set it up as a ministry or a commission.

Negotiators also decided to retain the Mainland Affairs Council and upgrade the Vocational Assistance Commission for Retired Servicemen to the ministerial level, as well as the Council of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Administration.

Another cross-party meeting was called by Wang yesterday afternoon to discuss amendments to the Income Tax Law (所得稅法), revisions to the Law Governing Communications Protection and Electronic Surveillance (通訊保障及監察法) and modifications to the Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選舉罷免法).

Amendments to the Public Officials Election and Recall Law may proceed to the second and third readings tomorrow if all caucus representatives agree to sign an accord.

The revisions would require legislative approval of the redrawing of constituencies for future legislative elections after the Central Election Commission makes the adjustment.

Because of sharp disagreements, adjustments to the Law Governing Communications Protection and Electronic Surveillance are unlikely to clear the legislature before it breaks for the winter recess tomorrow.

Wang yesterday promised to call another round of cross-party negotiations next month when the legislature reconvenes.

Lawmakers may leave amendments to the Income Tax Law for the next legislative session if all caucuses fail to reach a consensus over the issue today.

Although lawmakers from across party lines agreed to increase the eight-year, NT$80 billion (US$2.5 billion) flood-control bill to NT$116 billion, the odds of passing it are slim because the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday requested that the budget be included in the government's five-year, NT$500 billion special budget earmarked for a package of 10 new infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, the legislature yesterday passed amendments to the Organic Law of the Bureau of Labor Insurance (勞工保險局組織條例), which will add a new department to the bureau.

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