Thu, May 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

‘Visionary’ proposal lacks vision: groups

INSUBSTANTIAL:The Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program is a blank check for any project that could be labeled ‘visionary,’ groups said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Representatives from several social groups yesterday hold an outdoor news conference in Taipei to protest the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, which they say is ill-considered.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The government’s “visionary” infrastructure construction plans lack a “visionary” focus as a result of their closed and rushed review process, civic groups said yesterday at a protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

More than 30 protesters from Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan, the Economic Democracy Union and other groups called for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program to be sent back to the Executive Yuan for reformulation before legislative review.

“Forward-looking” in Chinese can also be translated as “visionary.”

“We cannot agree with taking just three months to decide how to spend NT$880 billion [US$29.26 billion],” Economic Democracy Union spokesman Hsu Po-jen (許博任) said.

The groups said that it is a “grab bag” of previous agency and local government wish lists, while special article legislation under consideration to provide exceptions to ordinary budget rules are likely to weaken rigorous review and approval processes.

“If it passes committee review today, the plans would amount to a blank check for anything that can be labeled as ‘visionary,’ allowing it to be placed in a blurry framework and avoid detailed individual legislative review,” land rights advocate Chen Chih-hsiao (陳致曉) said, adding that the plan is crude and unclear, while failing to provide an explanation for how local governments would obtain their share of the budget.

Based on experience, many local governments would likely seek to use zone expropriation of private land to fill budget gaps, he said.

“Of course, we cannot deny that there is some progressiveness in the plan’s ambitions to use public rail construction to replace personal transportation tools, but civic participation and evaluation have been insufficient, so we feel it is likely to devolve into political pork,” Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan, researcher Pan Cheng-cheng (潘正正) said, criticizing the plans for focusing on rail grade separation in urban areas.

Extensive highway construction in rural areas was also “contradictory” to the plan’s stated aim of fostering public transportation, she said, calling for the government to focus instead on expanding rural bus services.

“Both the water resources and ‘green’ energy elements have skipped the most basic resolution — stopping the growth of water waste and electricity use,” she said, criticizing plans for focusing on “surface issues” such as beautifying urban waterways and constructing reservoirs, rather than reducing pipe leakage and conserving underground aquifers.

The plans also fail to outline how promised increases in the percentage of “green” energy use would be achieved, she said.

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