Sat, Feb 06, 2016 - Page 3 News List

‘Priority bills’ sent to Legislative Yuan

FOREIGN ACQUISITION:Taiwanese mistrust of foreign business ownership could pose a threat to the nation’s participation in trade agreements, Simon Chang said

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Premier Simon Chang, right, gives red envelopes to children at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Premier Simon Chang (張善政) yesterday said that between 20 and 30 bills among the 149 bills sent to the Legislative Yuan have been marked as “priority bills,” including controversial drafts establishing an oversight mechanism for the cross-strait agreements and long-term care service insurance bill.

Chang said in a radio interview yesterday that the priority bills the Executive Yuan identified are those that are deemed important, adding that the government understands that the bills might not be completely accepted by the legislature, but hopes the two sides could have an open mind when discussing them.

“For example, the long-term care service insurance act: The Executive Yuan upholds the version using the idea of insurance [for the funding of the service] while the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] calls for increasing [certain] taxes,” Chang said, adding that the Executive Yuan’s version is not “worthless” and has its pluses.

“I wish to pass a version that condenses the strong points of the two proposals,” he said.

However, the most controversial bill is for institutionalizing a cross-strait agreement oversight mechanism.

“There are versions that call for the participation of legislators in the cross-strait negotiations, or holding civil servants legally accountable when the negotiation yields unacceptable outcomes, which would place great pressure on civil officials,” Chang said.

When asked about the idea of a “two-state doctrine” being embedded in the version proposed by civil groups, in which the wording presupposes the negotiation takes place between two states (the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China), the premier said the DPP should act pragmatically.

“Unless you plan to stop talking to [China] in the years to come, I think we need to take [China’s] stance into consideration. You have to be practical. However, how and to what extent are the questions that need be carefully weighed by the DPP and Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文),” he said.

In response to the DPP and the New Power Party caucuses’ call for a suspension of the review of an application to acquire cable and Internet services provider China Network Systems Co, the premier said the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission has not scheduled a review for the case, adding that because the commission is an independent committee, the Executive Yuan would not intervene in its operation.

“However, if the legislature reaches a resolution requiring the commission to halt the review before the committee schedules a review, it is very likely that the commission would respect the decision,” Chang added.

He nevertheless said he was concerned about Taiwanese mistrust of foreign acquisition, which might hinder the nation’s entry into regional economic organizations.

“When I was dealing with [the country’s intended application for joining] the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] and RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership], some told us that Taiwan’s review of foreign investment is not transparent enough. This clearly shows that, for Taiwan to be a member of the TPP or RCEP, a lack of transparency would be a barrier.”

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