The legislature’s review of the central government’s budget for next year is only 55.3 percent complete and is behind schedule, the Citizen’s Congress Watch (CCW) said yesterday, adding that due to the tight schedule and short time remaining, legislators might let some provisions pass.
The CCW is a non-governmental organization that oversees the legislature and publishes evaluation reports to guarantee transparency in the legislative environment and put pressure on legislators to perform adequately.
CCW president Shih Shin-min (施信民) said that according to the Budget Act (預算法), the legislature should have completed the reviews of next year’s budget prior to the beginning of the annual accounting cycle.
However, with only one month left in the Legislative Yuan’s current session, the organization is worried that legislators might let budgets pass unless the current legislative session was extended.
The organization’s executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) said that the legislature should help the nation cut its expenses, and aim to improve the nation’s financial situation.
Saying that the government’s deficit was growing by NT$190 billion (US$6.8 billion) per year, while annual income was only NT$170 billion, Chang called upon the legislature to apply the strictest standards to governmental budgeting and slash all unnecessary expenses.
“If the legislature does not at least slash NT$100 billion from the governmental budget, it does not deserve a passing grade,” Chang said.
Meanwhile, Shih also said that it was wrong for the legislature to schedule the budgets of state-owned businesses for next year, as it was essentially allowing state-owned businesses to use up half of the budget before the legislature approves it.
Shih also said that the legislature’s progress was too slow, pointing out that just last month the legislature was still reviewing the budget for Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) and CPC Corp for last year.
“It’s a review that has been delayed by 328 days, nearly a whole year,” Shih said.
The time frame the legislature had scheduled for budget reviews is too short, causing its efforts to supervise the government spending to be inadequate, Shih said.
Shih added that the government should publicize its budgets — with the exception of classified budgets such as national defense and foreign diplomacy — so the public might help the legislators in their reviewing process.
Chang also pointed out that although the legislature had installed an on demand interactive video system so the public would be able to view legislative sessions, darkening the screen when committees start bi-partisan negotiations was unacceptable.
“We could only hear the audio, but not see who was talking. The public is paying NT$200 million over four years for this equipment,” Chang said, calling for the legislature to review the system’s quality and settings so as to preserve the public’s right to know.