Efforts by the pan-green camp to resolve the impasse over this year's government budget yesterday exacerbated political bickering, and in some cases led to infighting within the camp itself.
Meanwhile, the bill that has left the budget high and dry -- the pan-blue camp's proposal to turn the nation's election oversight body into a partisan organization -- was also stalled.
Politicians took the opportunity to engage in heated fingerpointing, while there appeared to be little indication that the dispute would end any time soon.
PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES
The Budget Act (
The non-passage of the budget bill marked the first time in the nation's history that the government started a fiscal year without the legislature's approval of its funds.
However, the hype surrounding the stalled budget obscures the fact that, unlike many countries where a stalled budget would mean a government shutdown, the law allows the government to continue operating normally even if its budget isn't passed. Only funding for new construction projects cannot be released.
Therefore, of the NT$1.6 trillion requested by the government, 99.96 percent of the funds -- all but NT$70 billion for new construction -- can be spent, even without legislative approval.
The latest round of inaction followed by denunciation -- which has become the de facto political process at the Legislative Yuan -- began after Premier Su Tseng-chang (
In the advertisement, Su urged the public to voice its anger by e-mail, phone or letter to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for holding the budget hostage in its efforts to get an amendment to the Organic Law of the Central Election Commission (
That amendment would strip the Executive Yuan of its control over the CEC and place it in the hands of the Legislative Yuan.
The KMT legislative caucus called a press conference to attack the premier over the advertisement, saying that Su was responsible for the stalled budget bill.
"Su is the first premier to fail to get his budget request cleared in the legislature, which just shows how incapable he is," KMT Legislator Alex Fai (
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (
"I suspect Su's motives in running the advertisement. He might have hinted that politically appointed officials should choose sides in the DPP primary when asking them to sponsor the advertisement," Lin said.
DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (
The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) called on people to delay filing taxes until the budget bill is passed, while a group of party supporters held protests in front of the legislature.
"It stands to reason that people should boycott filing taxation as a government without a budget is unable to take care of the people," TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (
But Deputy Minister of Finance Lin Tseng-chi (
Meanwhile, Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Chen Chin-ting (
The Cabinet yesterday said its advertisement had nothing to do with the DPP's primary.
"It was merely an SOS message to the public that the government is running out of money," said Cabinet spokeswoman Chen Mei-ling (
"It has nothing to do with the election," she added. "The main purpose is to show the public how serious the problem is and the difficult situation the central government is experiencing."
The spokeswoman said that the total cost of the advertisement in three newspapers was approximately NT$800,000.
The advertisement said it would be paid for by donations from Cabinet members.
However, as of press time yesterday, no donation had been made by Cabinet members.
Asked how the Cabinet was going to pay off the cost of the advertisement if donations proved insufficient, she said the premier would take care of it.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih
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