The controversy over the government’s relaxation of restrictions on US beef imports is expected to linger a little longer on the legislative floor after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday rejected the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus’ latest attempt to amend legislation to address perceived flaws in the Taiwan-US import protocol.
On Friday, the KMT and the DPP caucuses agreed to settle their disagreement on making a ban on US ground beef and bovine offal part of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) by tomorrow.
“Contrary to what it promised, the KMT’s latest draft amendment will not block imports of US ground beef and bovine offal. The KMT was lying,” DPP legislative caucus whip Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) told a press conference.
The DPP has been demanding that the KMT revisit the conclusion reached during cross-party talks that the Act should be amended to statutorily prohibit such imports.
Under the protocol reached with Washington, US bone-in beef, ground beef, intestines, brains, spinal cords and processed beef from cattle younger than 30 months that have not been contaminated with “specific risk materials” are allowed to enter the country.
Rebutting the DPP’s claims, KMT legislative caucus whip Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said the KMT’s latest version would effectively block imports of risky products.
The KMT’s latest proposal says beef products imported from areas where mad cow disease has been reported in the past 10 years should be thawed and pass batch-by-batch inspections before being allowed into the country.
“With such a procedure in place, we expect that importers will be extremely reluctant to import such products, as they will risk losing money. The thawing and inspection measures will increase their warehousing costs and lead to deterioration of the products’ quality,” Lu said.
In related news, the legislature yesterday approved an amendment to the Trade Act (貿易法) to bring regulations on imports of strategic high-tech commodities and endangered animals in line with international norms, as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
The legislature also approved an amendment to the Criminal Code (刑法) that would allow people sentenced for minor crimes to convert the prison sentence to a fine or community service.
The amendment came after the Council of Grand Justices handed down an interpretation finding regulations prohibiting such conversions unconstitutional.
Lawmakers also approved an amendment to the Tax Collection Act (稅捐稽徵法), which had required the government to stipulate an expiry date for tax breaks when they are implemented.
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