Thu, Jun 14, 2007 - Page 3 News List

President Chen glad Ma changed his mind on budget

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that he was glad former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) finally agreed to stop obstructing passage of the government budget for the current fiscal year.

Ma urged the KMT caucus on Monday to allow the budget bill to be reviewed ahead of a bill to amend the Organic Law of the Central Election Commission (中央選舉委員會組織法) and to pass it before the end of the legislative session tomorrow.

Chen said he hoped the legislature would pass the budget and other bills unconditionally tomorrow as the legislature is set to go into recess on Saturday.

"As it is the legislature's constitutional responsibility to review the government budget, using the budget bill to hold other bills hostage is tantamount to using the people's welfare to extort political interest," Chen said.

"If the government gave in on this matter, the constitutional system would suffer a severe blow and the majority would redouble its efforts to bully the minority. I don't think it is something the 23 million people of Taiwan would find acceptable," he said.

Chen made the remarks while meeting winners of this year's model team leaders of water conservation projects at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

The government earmarked NT$11 billion (US$343 million) in water conservation-related projects in this year's budget, but the delay in passage of the budget has hampered their implementation, Chen said.

Government funding is desperately needed after days of torrential rain wreaked havoc and NT$200 million in damages in Yunlin and the north, he said.

Chen said the opposition parties had set a bad example by blocking the budget bill for more than six months and linking the budget with other bills.

"Such overbearing contempt for democracy deserves the most severe condemnation and disdain," he said.

Citing the proverb "You can travel all over the world if you are reasonable, but it is difficult to move a single step if you are not," Chen said it was unreasonable for the opposition parties to link the budget to passage of the Central Election Commission amendment.

He said he was not surprised to learn that Ma had changed his mind about passage of the fiscal 2007 budget.

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