Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 4 News List

KMT caucus to push city-county mergers

By Flora Wang AND Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei yesterday talks to the press at a forum in Taichung for promoting regional cooperation among cities and counties.

PHOTO: LIAO YAO-TUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus vowed yesterday to push through a proposed amendment to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) during today’s plenary session to enable the merger of Taichung City and Taichung County.

“We will mobilize our lawmakers tomorrow to push the bill through during a vote,” KMT caucus secretary-general Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) said. “The caucus will do its best to finalize this major legislation.”

Lawmakers agreed yesterday to deal with the proposal during today’s plenary session. They agreed to vote on the bill if different caucuses failed to reach a consensus regarding the legislation.

The proposed amendment is aimed at better utilizing state-owned land and resources, while balancing regional, urban and rural development by adjusting administrative organizations nationwide.

It is also seen as the key to the success of the planned merger of Taichung City and County by the year-end City and County chief elections.

Central Election Commission Chairman Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄) said last month that there could be problems if the legislature failed to pass the amendment by April 20.

In accordance with the Political Donation Act (政治獻金法), any aspirant eyeing the year-end city and county chief elections could begin accepting political donations from April 20, Chang said.

Chang said if a city and county completed a merger after this year’s elections, the commission would be forced to hold another vote at the end of next year for the chief of the new special municipality, while the newly elected chiefs of the city and county would only be able to serve for a year instead of four.

In addition to Taichung City and county, Kaohsiung City and County and Taipei City and County have also expressed interest in a merger.

Meanwhile, the legislature is also expected to vote on a proposed amendment to the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) that would force government officials under investigation for corruption to explain the sources of their wealth.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that he would be happy to see the merger of Taichung County and city, but emphasized that he hoped to see other counties and cities interested in mergers fulfil their ambitions.

Ma said he hoped to see the legislature pass amendments today to pave the way for mergers.

Saying the merger of counties and cities was an “inevitable trend,” Ma said it could upgrade the competitiveness of the nation by expanding the scale of cities.

Ma made the remarks while addressing a forum in Taichung City yesterday. The event was organized to discuss regional cooperation. Taichung County and City have been making aggressive efforts to merge into one municipality.

Ma said under the policy of establishing three cities and 15 counties, he would make sure the central government works toward the goal and that all counties and cities enjoy an equal opportunity to develop.

Describing Taiwan as an engine of regional development, Ma said further development was key to upgrade the nation’s competitive edge. He said he hoped to see the three cities and 15 counties play a leading role in enhancing the overall competitiveness of the nation.

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei’s (周錫瑋), who was also at the seminar, said he was happy to see Taichung County and city merge, but expressed the hope that all merger proposals could be tackled at the same time.

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