The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed the Financial Discipline Act (財政紀律法) to better regulate government spending.
The act was formulated to realize zero-base budgeting to ensure that the expenditures of the central and local governments are moderate and to strictly regulate deficits and government lending, thereby achieving sustainable national development.
The regulation of deficits, sourcing of funds and control of lending by the government should be impervious to electoral or political affairs, the act says.
The government, as well as all political parties, should adhere to pertinent regulations aimed at facilitating responsible financing, it says.
In the spirit of Germany’s budgeting practices, the act stipulates that the Directorate-General of Budgeting, Accounting and Statistics must consult private third-party entities, experts and academics before publishing its estimate of the general budget.
Should any discrepancy between the government’s estimate and those by members of the public exceed 20 percent, the agency would be required to provide an explanation, it says.
If a legal motion proposed by a central government agency or a lawmaker would greatly increase government expenditure or significantly reduce its revenue, the sponsor of the motion must clarify how the increase in spending would be covered or how funding to offset the deficits would be sourced, the act says.
The rule also applies to any local government that has autonomous laws or bylaws on increasing its annual expenditure or deficits, it says.
The act stipulates that before making tax expenditures, the central or local governments must ensure that such schemes would not negatively affect existing taxation rules and assess whether the move is necessary based on the operation of relevant policies.
In addition, governing bodies with budgets drawn from tax revenue must provide an estimate on the benefits, cost or tax losses generated by such a scheme, as well as its time frame, the act says.
Central or local governments could issue nonprofit special government funds after specifying the source of their funding in accordance with the needs of their policies, it says.
A new nonprofit special fund should only be issued after sufficient funding has been indicated, the act says, adding that its purposes must not overlap with those of an existing fund.
The issuance of nonprofit special funds should be terminated if they prove to be inefficient in serving their purposes, or if their intended uses are eliminated, it says.
The act stipulates that the review of budget requests should focus on reasons for expenditure increases or revenue losses, as well as any source of alternative funding necessary and plans to offset debt.
Unless otherwise approved by a resolution carried by a lawmaking body, no administrative agency may resort to lending when offsetting revenue losses, which should be covered by reducing its annual expenditure, the act says.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋), a sponsor of the act, said that it would help to integrate financial discipline rules scattered across the Budget Act (預算法), the Public Debt Act (公共債務法), the Local Government Act (地方制度法) and the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法).
Existing rules on financial discipline are in need of an overhaul, as they have not been strictly enforced and are often reduced to mere “reminders,” he said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗), another sponsor of the act, said that the legislation would be conducive to the allocation of funds and increase oversight of how budgets are planned.
Hopefully, it would help to ease the nation’s heavy financial burden and keep future generations out of debt, he said.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time
REPEAT OFFENDER: The man went outside for exercise on Wednesday and then left his home on Saturday with his girlfriend, officials said A New Taipei City man has been fined NT$400,000 (US$13,221) and ordered into government quarantine after breaking home quarantine for a second time on Saturday. The 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳) returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week and was ordered to home quarantine until Sunday. He was seen leaving his home on a scooter with his girlfriend on Saturday, three days after he was fined NT$200,000 for going outside to exercise, police said. Chen has now been placed in a quarantine center arranged by the district office and health center of the district where he lives, police said. Police warned the public
Taipei residents who stay at hotels in the city during their 14-day mandatory quarantine period are eligible to apply for the city’s NT$7,000 subsidy, with online applications to be launched next week. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) on Monday said Taipei residents who have COVID-19 Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Notice dated after March 19 and a quarantine hotel receipt for the dates covered by the quarantine period, would be eligible for the subsidy. The Taipei City Government on Sunday told the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that so many city residents are under home quarantine that about 90 percent of