Fri, Jun 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

New projects proposed for program

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Four more project categories might be added to the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, potentially increasing the program’s budget by NT$7 billion (US$230.5 million), the Cabinet said yesterday.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus asked Premier Lin Chuan (林全) to add categories for food safety, fertility rate improvement, youth employment and talent cultivation to the program’s five existing categories: railway projects, water infrastructure, renewable energy, digital infrastructure and urban and rural development.

The Executive Yuan said it respects the caucus’ suggestion, but added that a formal decision could not be made until a legislative cross-caucus negotiation on Monday.

The proposal would make the eight-year, NT$882.4 billion program reach its budget cap of NT$890 billion, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.

A review of the draft act on public-school teachers’ retirement benefits was finalized yesterday, and a cross-caucus negotiation of the infrastructure program draft act is to begin on Monday, Hsu said, adding that the DPP caucus is confident it would complete the review by Wednesday.

If the review fails, the Cabinet would not be able to make budget proposals for key infrastructure projects, including the ongoing construction of two light rails in New Taipei City’s Sindian (新店) and Tamsui (淡水) districts, Hsu said.

While the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has asked to decrease the budget for the proposed railway projects and increase the water management fund, Hsu said the nation has no spare capacity to carry out additional water infrastructure projects other than those included in the program.

The KMT administration under former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) approved a NT$116 billion budget for flood prevention, but only NT$80 billion was allocated due to limited construction capacity, Hsu said.

“No matter how hungry you are, you cannot finish 10 meals at a time,” Hsu said.

Several of the railway projects included in the program were approved by the former KMT administration, including the Sindian and Tamsui light rails, an MRT line connecting New Taipei City’s Sansia (三峽) and Yingge (鶯歌) districts and an MRT line in Taoyuan, Hsu said, adding that their inclusion in the program is critical.

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