KMT says premier’s promises akin to ‘vote-buying’

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Sep 08, 2018 - Page 3

Premier William Lai (賴清德) made a “campaign promise” worth more than NT$700 billion (US$22.7 billion), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus said yesterday, adding that such assurances border on vote-buying and could leave future generations indebted.

Between late January and Saturday last week, Lai promised NT$743 billion in development projects — a sum that is still increasing, KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) said.

Among the projects he has promised were drainage systems in Changhua County for NT$100 billion; a proposed metro system, a railway and an overpass in Pingtung County for a combined NT$50.6 billion; and a project to connect the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit System to Jhongli Railway Station in Taoyuan for NT$100 billion, Tseng said.

This “standard campaigning practice” by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has been followed by municipalities and counties governed by the party, he said.

In a “blatant” move to garner votes for the Nov. 25 nine-in-one elections, the Changhua County Government has announced monetary gifts ranging from NT$3,000 to NT$9,000 to 204,344 residents aged 65 or older for the Double Ninth Festival — the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, a festival to show respect toward elderly people — which falls on Oct. 17, a little more than a month before the elections, Tseng said.

With government debt as of yesterday hovering at about NT$5.5 trillion, Tseng said that adding Lai’s campaign promises and NT$880 billion earmarked for the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program would see the government exceed its borrowing quota of NT$6.94 trillion, leaving taxpayers indebted.

The DPP administration is poised to “max out” the government’s budget, he said, adding that there might not be enough funds for relief if the nation is hit by a natural disaster.

The Control Yuan should investigate the legality of Lai’s proposed spending, he said.

Lai’s promises seem to focus on administrative regions where the DPP’s is facing an uphill battle in the elections, KMT caucus whip Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, adding that it borders on vote-buying.

The caucus would bring a lawsuit against Lai if the Control Yuan does not investigate Lai’s money-squandering campaign promises, he said.

Separately yesterday, DPP caucus director-general Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said that a number of KMT commissioner and mayoral candidates have openly clamored for development projects in their constituencies to be included in the Forward-looking program.

With the importance of balancing urban-rural development, local governments have long expressed their support for projects criticized by the KMT, Lee said.

He called on KMT legislators not to oppose budgets earmarked for projects proposed by the central government at the legislature, only to clamor for them as soon as they return to their constituencies.

Additional reporting by Su Fun-her