Mon, Jan 16, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DPP could use budget request to make a point: pundits

AXED FUNDS The DPP stands little chance of winning support for a legislative review of the budget, but making the request could serve as a political gesture

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

While the administration is considering whether to ask the legislature to re-examine the just-passed budget plan, political observers yesterday pointed out that even if there is little chance that such a request would be successful, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) might want to go ahead as a political gesture.

"The legislature has clearly violated the power of the executive branch by cutting and freezing a record high amount of this year's government budget as well as making irrational legislative resolutions," said Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深), deputy chairman of the Northern Taiwan Society.

"It is the government's constitutional right to ask the legislature to re-examine, and hopefully overturn, the passed budget plan," Chen said.

The move would be meaningful in highlighting the political predicament the DPP government has been facing since it came to power six years ago, he added.

The Constitution mandates that if the government wants to overturn a law, treaty or budget plan passed by the legislature that it deems difficult to implement, the Executive Yuan must send a request to the president within 10 days of receiving the written text of the law from the legislature.

If the president agrees with the executive branch, he must then send the request to the legislature. Lawmakers are required to reach a final decision within 15 days of receiving the request.

If lawmakers fail to reach a final decision before the deadline, the passed law or budget automatically becomes invalid.

If more than half of the legislature vetoes the government's request, the premier must accept the law or budget plan, which would then go into effect three days after it is promulgated by the president.

If lawmakers are upset by the Cabinet's attempt to reject a law, treaty or budget plan, they can then call for a no confidence vote against the premier. However, a petition to call such a vote must be endorsed by one-third of lawmakers. Seventy-two hours after the petition is filed, a no-confidence vote must be called within 48 hours.

If more than one-half of the lawmakers vote in favor of the no-confidence motion, the premier must resign within 10 days. He can request that the president dismiss the legislature as a retaliatory measure. If the no-confidence motion fails, lawmakers cannot petition for another no-confidence vote against the same premier within one year.

If the request is filed, it would mark the first time in history that the executive branch has asked the legislature to reconsider a passed budget.

The DPP, however, stands little chance of succeeding unless it can manage to win the support of all independent lawmakers or secure votes from pan-blue lawmakers.

The legislature currently has 220 occupied seats, with the pan-blue coalition of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) holding a slim majority of 111 and the ruling DPP and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), taking up 100.

There are nine independent lawmakers, with eight belonging to the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union caucus and one acting alone.

If the government eventually decides to file the request, Cabinet Secretary-General and Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) has hinted that the Cabinet may focus on certain budget items, such as the arms procurement or scientific development.

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