Fri, Dec 21, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blue lawmakers pass 2008 budget

CONDITIONS The legislators imposed several binding resolutions that could significantly impact on Cabinet policies on a referendum for a UN bid and elections

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pan-blue camp lawmakers wave party and national flags yesterday after using their legislative majority to pass a bill demanding that all government ministries ask the Government Information Office to returns funds they gave it to promote the Democratic Progressive Party's proposed referendum on applying to enter the UN using the name "Taiwan."

PHOTO: CNA

The legislature approved the government budget for next year yesterday, although it cut an estimated NT$13.6 billion (US$418 million) by requiring government agencies to recoup money they pooled to help support campaign for the Democratic Progressive Party(DPP)-sponsored referendum on a UN bid using the name "Taiwan."

The lawmakers approved a budget totaling NT$1.68 trillion for next year. They also approved the budget on time, unlike the budget bill for the current fiscal year, which was initially boycotted by the pan-blue camp and passed several months later.

The legislature also passed a NT$70 billion defense budget earmarked for the Hsiung Feng-2E missiles and PAC-3 anti-missile system.

The legislature, however, slashed the budget by NT$5.7 billion and froze nearly half of the requested amount, or around NT$32.7 billion.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) yesterday said the party could support the allocation of another three sets of Patriot III anti-missile systems following presidential elections in March.

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday expressed astonishment and regret over the cut, emphasizing that it would postpone the deployment of necessary defense equipment.

The legislature also passed several binding resolutions backed by the KMT caucus as a package deal.

One resolutions requires all government agencies that gave money to the Government Information Office (GIO) for the UN referendum promotion to ask for their money back. They have to make the request 10 days before the end of the current fiscal year.

Agency heads who fail to obey the resolution risk being sued and forced to pay indemnification.

Another resolution requires the Central Election Commission (CEC) to hold the legislative and presidential polls and four referendums either by using a two-step voting procedure, or by issuing the referendum ballots separately from the election ballots.

That resolution will cause controversy because the CEC has decided to follow a one-step procedure for the Jan. 12 legislative elections and the referendums -- one initiated by the DPP on recovering the KMT's stolen assets and an anti-corruption referendum initiated by the KMT. Under this system, voters will receive their legislative and referendum ballots together when they enter a polling station.

The Cabinet has said any ballot cast through a two-step procedure would be considered invalid.

The resolution passed yesterday states that the CEC cannot refuse to provide a budget for local election commissions that use a two-step system.

CEC Secretary-General Teng Tien-yu (鄧天祐) told reporters yesterday that funding for next month's elections "was allocated to local election commissions as soon as the central government budget was passed earlier this year."

Teng declined to comment when asked if the CEC would approve additional funding for two-step voting if local election commissions asked for more money.

"The commission has decided to employ the one-step voting scheme, and that's our set policy," Teng said.

Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin, staff reporter and AP

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