Civic groups yesterday expressed concern that the government’s Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program could degenerate into a pork barrel, as debate over the plan continues.
“The problem is that in the past there have been many examples of projects that started out with good intentions, but ended with tragic results,” National Chengchi University’s Department of Land Economics professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) said at a forum organized by the Economic Democracy Union.
“There is absolutely not enough ‘forward-lookingness’ in the entire program, which amounts to throwing away money,” union spokesman Hsu Po-jen (許博任) said, adding that there is danger that grants would degenerate into pork barrel aimed at securing votes from local constituencies unless civic groups are given a greater role in review.
Citing a “mixed bag” of railway construction projects, he said the proposal had been drafted too hastily and called for the Executive Yuan to require ministries to resubmit project proposals after it drafts a clear definition of “forward-looking.”
National Taiwan University’s Societal Risk and Policy Research Center postdoctoral researcher Chao Chia-wei (趙家緯) commended plans to expand railway lines as necessary for reducing carbon emissions, but said that some elements of the government proposals were contradictory and seemed to reflect a lack of review.
He cited plans to construct additional water reservoirs to guarantee water supplies as an example, saying that replacing old pipes to reduce leakage would be more cost-effective.
“The crucial issue is not whether we should pursue these projects — the question is how,” National Development Council Deputy Minister Tseng Shu-cheng (曾旭正) said, adding that the project’s genesis was originally geared at speeding up existing infrastructure construction plans.
He said that he “agreed” with complaints that the program had been proposed hastily and lacked civil participation, while dodging a question about whether it could be temporarily withdrawn for reformulation.
“The formulation of the policy involves a bunch of tangled issues including legislative formulation and budget drafting,” he said. “Whether it can be withdrawn is not a question I can answer.”
OFFLINE: People who do not wish to register can get the money from select ATMs using their bank card, ID number and National Health Insurance card number Online registration for NT$6,000 (US$196.32) cash payments drawn from last year’s tax surplus is to open today for eligible people whose national ID or permanent residency number ends in either a zero or a one, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday. Officials from the ministry revealed which days Taiwanese and eligible foreigners would be able to register for the cash payments at a joint news conference with the Ministry of Digital Affairs. Online registration is to open tomorrow for those whose number ends in a two or three; on Friday for those that end in a four or five: on Saturday
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WORKING UP AN APPETITE: Sales at the Rueifong Night Market surged 20 to 30 percent, while seats at Liouhe Night Market were packed until 1am, market officials said South Korean pop band Blackpink’s concerts over the weekend in Kaohsiung helped draw large crowds to local night markets, the Kaohsiung City Government said yesterday. The two concerts on Saturday and Sunday at Kaohsiung National Stadium drew more than 90,000 people. The city government offered NT$50 vouchers to spend locally to concertgoers who showed their ticket stubs. Liouhe Night Market (六合夜市) management committee head Chuang Chi-chang (莊其章) said that crowds over the weekend surged at about 10pm and the market remained packed until 1:30am. “Almost all the seats were filled,” Chuang said. Night market stall owners had stocked up in expectation of an increased number