Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) on Sunday accused the opposition of “barbaric” obstruction, adding that failure to approve the general budget before the end of the year would have dire consequences.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been boycotting the general budget for next fiscal year in the six legislative committees which they convene, he said.
As a result, the legislature has little time left to vote on the budget before the session expires, Ker said.
Failure to pass the budget would affect a broad range of government programs, including public employee pay raises, long-term care, military procurement, drug-use prevention, higher-education reform and the purchase of new police uniforms, he said.
“It does not matter how barbaric you are: Boycotting the general budget is off-limits,” he said. “Our patience has limits.”
If the committees do not finish their reviews, the DPP caucus would withdraw the bills from committee and force their second readings through without further deliberation, he said, adding that should the DPP caucus decide on this course of action, party legislators are to either put it in motion on Friday or convene the legislature for an extra session.
What will happen depends on KMT members’ actions, he said.
The Legislative Yuan has eight standing committees, but only the Economics Committee and the Transportation Committee have finished deliberating their portions of the general budget, he said.
Deliberations are incomplete at the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene, Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes, Finance, Foreign Affairs and National Defense, Education and Culture, and Internal Administration committees, he said, adding that the delay is particularly severe in the Finance Committee.
Only some bills sponsored by DPP conveners, and the Aboriginal cultural budgets sponsored by KMT Legislator and Internal Administration Committee Convener Sra Kacaw (鄭天財) are ready, he said.
“The legislature has never in its 20 years failed to hammer out a general budget in committee by this time of the year,” Ker said, adding that public servants would receive no pay raise if the general budget is not passed.
The KMT should “own up” to opposing the raise if it obstructs the budget, he added.
“The delays to the general budget will have a negative effect on policy,” Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.
The Cabinet is hopeful that the budget will pass by next month, but any further delays would impede the schedules for infrastructure projects and other policies, he said, adding that the administration expects the general budget to pass immediately next month by an extempore legislative session, as the 3 percent pay raise for teachers, public functionaries and military personnel depends on the budget.
The KMT caucus yesterday sent a request to Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) to extend the session and include more party-to-party negotiations to ensure the government’s continued funding and implementation of major policies.
Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng
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