Tue, Jan 17, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Premier ponders next step on budget

RECONSIDERATION The Executive Yuan and the Presidential Office are waiting to get the revised budget plan back from the legislature before deciding their next step

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday that he would recommend the president ask the legislature to reconsider the recently passed budget plan, but he emphasized that the matter requires further negotiations with the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) legislative caucus and the approval of the president.

Last Thursday night, after the legislature passed a drastically reduced government budget, the Executive Yuan announced that it would seek a reconsideration of the budget plan. This year's budget suffered the biggest cuts in a decade at the hands of pan-blue lawmakers.

The Executive Yuan's decision drew criticism from some DPP lawmakers and also failed to win immediate support from the Presidential Office.

Hsieh said that he would make his recommendation to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as soon as the Executive Yuan receives the budget from the legislature.

He reiterated the importance of "reconciliation" and "co-existence," an idea he has been trumpeting in recent years but which has failed to win the support of the pan-blue dominated legislature.

Hsieh emphasized that the foundation for reconciliation is to obtain power first. Without power, he said, to reconcile is to surrender.

"It is important to integrate the majority in the legislature. No matter how hard it is, it is a process we have to go through," the premier said.

Meanwhile, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) reportedly criticized the pan-blue camp's relentless trimming of the budget and habitual boycotting of government policies, calling the actions part of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) "soft decapitation" strategy, according to DPP caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻).

"The vice president was very worried about the current political climate when she talked with us [on Sunday]," he said.

Lu met with DPP caucus whips, faction leaders and Central Standing Committee members on Sunday when the party's chairmanship election was held.

Chen Chin-jun said that in the meeting Lu had slammed Ma for tampering with the Constitution by meddling in legislative affairs and being the mastermind behind the pan-blue camp's slashing the government budget and blocking various government bills.

Last Thursday the legislature cut NT$36.5 billion (US$1.14 billion) from the government budget and froze NT$246 billion.

In addition to freezing the budgets of the Executive Yuan and Examination Yuan, the legislature passed a resolution requesting the Presidential Office dissolve its constitutional reform office as well as its youth corps, human-rights consultative committee, science and technology consultative committee, gender consultative committee and a preparatory taskforce for a national human-rights memorial museum.

Chen Chin-jun said the DPP leaders' discussion only exchanged opinions on the budget cuts and had not touched on the Executive Yuan's plan to seek a reconsideration of the budget -- as some in the media have speculated -- because Lu did not want to encroach on the power of either the premier or the president.

He also dismissed a report that he had proposed mobilizing supporters for a protest outside the KMT's headquarters against the KMT's handling of its ill-gotten party assets.

Chen Chin-jun said he had only called on the administration to pay closer attention to the problem and figure out a way to prevent the KMT from selling its improperly acquired party assets at reduced prices.

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