Thu, Jan 15, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Legislature forced to hold extra session

By Flora Wang and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties consult as they work late into the night at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Tuesday.

PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

After failing to pass the central government’s budget request for this fiscal year by the end of the legislative session on Tuesday, the legislature resolved yesterday to hold a provisional plenary session today.

Legislators were expected to vote on 109 motions related to the budget proposal during a session scheduled for this afternoon, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday, adding that he would first invite the legislature’s three caucuses to discuss the agenda of the provisional session around noon.

The legislature was forced to convene a provisional session after legislators failed to approve the budget request after a four-hour marathon vote on 159 motions on Tuesday, after which it had planned to go into recess.

The central government is seeking NT$1.7 trillion (US$51.1 billion) in revenue and NT$1.82 trillion in expenditure for this fiscal year.

The legislature’s Finance Committee previously passed the preliminary review of the request, cutting the annual revenue request by NT$124 million and cutting the expenditure request by NT$3.96 billion.

However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators found the scale of the cut dissatisfying.

The DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have since submitted tit-for-tat motions related to the budget.

Wang said that although the legislature failed to pass the budget proposal by Tuesday, it proved that “the legislature was not controlled by a single political party.”

It was possible that legislators would also vote on a proposal by the DPP that the legislature reconsider the Act on Issuance and Management of Electronic Monetary Cards (電子票證發行管理條例), which cleared the legislative floor on Tuesday, Wang said.

Meanwhile, the KMT and the DPP caucuses pointed fingers at each other over the impasse.

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) lambasted the DPP for “viciously boycotting” the review of the budget request.

“During the [negotiation], the DPP proposed its own scale for budget cuts. We tried to respect their opinions and modified [our proposals], but the DPP broke its promise and failed to complete the review of the budget proposal,” Lin said, referring to the DPP caucus’ decision to put 109 budget-related resolutions up for a vote. Only after those bills were voted on could the budget bill as a whole be considered.

As of midnight on Tuesday, 40 previously proposed budget resolutions had been decided, but the package of 109 resolutions had yet to be touched, making it impossible for a vote on the budget bill to take place before the session’s end.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that the process, which was unlikely to change anything, was intended to demonstrate “how the KMT is using legislative violence to suppress the DPP,” as the DPP is in the minority.

Ker said his caucus supported holding a provisional session to deal with the budget bill.

Although the budget request remained stalled, the pan-blue-dominated legislature passed three additional resolutions late on Tuesday night, requiring that the Public Television Service, Hakka Television and Taiwan Macroview TV — a TV service aimed at overseas compatriots — report to the government before they could spend their budgets.

Legislators also approved an additional resolution that the Ministry of Education remove the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall plaque restore the former plaque as soon as possible.

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