On the first day of the question-and-answer session on Premier Lin Chuan’s (林全) policy report to the legislature, lawmakers’ questions ranged from student loans to cross-strait relations and the cross-strait service trade agreement.
New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) was the first to question the premier, raising questions about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) and the new government’s stance on the cross-strait service trade pact.
Huang slammed a Ministry of Economic Affairs official for saying on Thursday that the No. 1 reactor of the plant, which was sealed last year, would be reactivated if needed.
He called for the outright closure of the nuclear power plant, saying it costs more than NT$1 billion (US$30.67 million) a year to maintain the sealed reactor, and “there is no need to spend such money if there is no plan to reactivate it.”
Lin said there is no plan to reactivate the reactor at this point, and that he would “further examine” the need for the sealing.
When asked by Huang about the cross-strait service trade agreement, the premier said that the deal, which has not been passed by the legislature, would be reviewed again after an oversight mechanism for cross-strait agreements is implemented.
Huang also demanded a new impact report for the agreement, saying: “There will be no meaningful review until a new impact report, different from the last administration’s, is produced.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) asked for a lower interest rate on student loans, which is now set at 1.62 percent.
“Eighty percent of the 570,000 people who now have student-loan debt are in, or graduated from, private colleges. They are not able to pay off their debt with their NT$28,000 monthly salary until well into their 30s,” Tseng said, calling for more subsidies.
“More [protests like] the Sunflower movement will likely arise if young people become disgruntled with the government,” Tseng added.
The premier said that the government would help students and that coordination with banks would be undertaken first.
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said that since President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) swearing-in on May 20, “the Straits Exchange Foundation has sent more than 60 messages to [its Chinese counterpart], but none have received a reply.”
Asked whether she has talked to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) since she has taken office, Mainland Affairs Council Katharine Chang (張小月) did not answer the question directly, but only repeated that the council would continue to put effort into cross-strait communication.
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