Despite unresolved controversies, lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday passed the first reading of a large portion of a bill aimed at turning the Taoyuan International Airport and surrounding area into an Airport Special Zone.
Eight of the bill’s 63 articles were put on hold and will be deliberated on again on Friday. Most of these relate to the tax benefits given to corporations.
The bill would establish “Tao-yuan Airport City” — a special zone covering the airport and the surrounding area. The proposed zone would be managed by an independent administration run by a board of directors. The Executive Yuan would supervise the operation of the board of directors.
The bill would authorize the board to develop and plan for the Airport Special Zone and manage the airport facilities, which are now under the jurisdiction of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.
Customs officials, airport police and other government workers would also be placed under the zone’s administration.
The board would be able to invest in transportation and other industries.
Corporations in the special zone would be eligible for several tax benefits. Business personnel from China and other countries could get visas after they arrive at the special zone.
The bill suggests that the government provide subsidies to the zone for new infrastructure. Private land in the zone could not be leased or sold without the consent of the zone administration.
The bill was introduced by seven Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators who represent districts in Taoyuan County: Chen Ken-te (陳根德), Cheng Chin-ling (鄭金玲), Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝), Sun Ta-chien (孫大千), Yang Li-hung (楊麗環), John Wu (吳志揚) and Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井).
Liao said the proposed zone would cover an area of 6,000 hectares, almost six times the size of the present airport and facilities.
Before the committee reviewed the bill, KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) from Kaohsiung City and independent Legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who is from Taichung, voiced their opposition to the proposal. They said if the Taoyuan airport became a special administrative zone, the same should be done for Kaohsiung International Airport and Chingchuankang Airport in Taichung.
Ministry of Transportation and Communications officials and Taoyuan County Commissioner Chu Li-lun (朱立倫) attended yesterday’s committee meeting. Chu Li-lun said the bill would increase the nation’s competitiveness and the project would be completely supervised by the Executive Yuan.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) was the only DPP lawmaker to challenge the bill. She said the bill should specify the range of the special zone and the type of investment allowed in the zone.
“Otherwise, casinos or other irrelevant industries will want to come in as well,” she said.
Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Oliver Yu (游芳來) said turning the Taoyuan airport into a special zone would cost the civil aviation operational fund NT$5 billion (US$165 million).
Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics officials said that government assets controlled by the proposed special zone would be equal to NT$87.1 billion. They said that the zone should be able to generate revenues and be self-sufficient.
Since the bill specifies that the zone would be run by an independent administration, the Budget Act (預算法) might not apply, they said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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