The draft special act governing the proposed free economic pilot zones is flawed and could establish a “mini Executive Yuan” at each zone because of its expansion of powers, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said yesterday, calling for public hearings before the draft bill is screened.
The Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee, Internal Administration Committee and Finance Committee are scheduled to discuss the proposed act today in a joint session because the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) listed it as its priority agenda.
“Given the [act’s] flaws, we think that more research and public hearings are required before it is placed on the legislative agenda,” DPP Legislater Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) told a press conference.
The project aims to establish free economic pilot zones in Keelung Port, Suao Port in Yilan County, Taipei Port, Taichung Port, Anping Port in Greater Tainan, Kaohsuing Port, the Taoyuan Aerotropolis in Taoyuan County and the Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park to demonstrate a model for business convenience and liberalization.
“Thirty-three of the 73 articles in the special act are blank authorizations, which give almost unlimited authority to administrative bodies of the free economic pilot zones,” DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said.
With the planned tax incentives and protective measures to be implemented in the zones, which are discouraged in any free-trade system, Wu said the establishment of the free economic pilot zones could achieve “just the opposite of what the government is promoting” — that establishing these zones would help Taiwan to secure free-trade agreements and joining regional economic integration, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Judging from the draft act, the administrative authority of a free economic pilot zone would be granted more power than the Executive Yuan, because the authority would be able to govern a wide range of areas — environmental protection, labor affairs, construction, commercial registration, licensing, taxation and personnel, among others, DPP lawmaker Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said.
Moreover, as individuals and companies in the free economic pilot zones would be exempt from legislation such as the Regional Plan Act (區域計畫法), the Urban Plan Act (都市計畫法), the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法) and the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), the mechanism could jeopardize the legal system, Tsai said.
The KMT caucus, which is likely to mobilize all its lawmakers to push the bill through, insisted that it wanted the proposal to be screened as soon as possible, but would not rush it.