With the approach of Tropical Storm Talim, lawmakers yesterday agreed to postpone a provisional session of the legislature to discuss a proposal to ease restrictions on imports of US beef containing ractopamine residue until next month.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said the extra session, pushed for by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), and initially planned for today and tomorrow, could be postponed until the middle of next month.
The proposal to levy a capital gains tax on securities investments and a confirmation vote on Premier Sean Chen’s (陳冲) nominations for the National Communications Commission (NCC) could also be placed on the agenda for the extra session, Lin said.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called a meeting of party caucus representatives yesterday amid concerns that the legislature could get caught up in wrangling over the ractopamine issue when heavy rains are set to lash many parts of the nation.
Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, had instructed the KMT legislators to call an extra session this week to vote on an amendment to Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that would ease the ban on ractopamine-tainted beef after the first session of the eighth legislature ended on Friday without passing the bill.
Although Ma was keen to see the bill passed, he is more worried about the effects of the weather systems, Wang said.
“President Ma is concerned about the expected heavy rainfall and the approaching storms,” Wang said.
“It will require further discussion among the ruling and opposition party caucuses to decide when to hold the extraordinary session,” the speaker said.
Wang said the legislators needed to return to their constituencies to help handle disaster preparedness and relief.
The opposition parties have criticized Ma for rushing to have an extra session to resolve the issue before the 35th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which develops international standards for food, early next month because it is highly likely that the commission will once again reject the draft maximum residue levels for ractopamine.
The Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party have demanded that the provisional session be held after the commission concludes its discussions of the matter at its annual session from July 2 to July 7 in Rome.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) on Sunday said the Cabinet “will not ease the ban on leanness-enhancer ractopamine with an administrative decree” before the legislature closes a provisional session.
The Executive Yuan said yesterday that it would respect Wang’s decisions on when to hold the extra session and what to put on the agenda.
If the provisional session was postponed, there was no reason not to wait until the one-month negotiation period ends on July 8 for a vote on a capital gains tax on securities transactions to be held and not to place a vote on the nominees for the National Communications Commission on the agenda, Wang said.
The four commission nominees are to replace four sitting members who are scheduled to complete their term of office and step down by the end of next month.
Additional reporting by CNA