Local governments could seek a constitutional interpretation if the central government decides to nullify local municipalities’ food safety regulations demanding “ractopamine-free” products, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Evaluation and Discipline Committee director-general Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元) said yesterday.
Media reports have cited an anonymous Cabinet official as saying on Saturday that the central government was considering whether to nullify such new food safety regulations, but a decision would not be made until the Executive Yuan communicated further with local governments, hoping that they would drop plans for such rules.
The Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Thursday voted to approve a slew of administrative directives related to the government’s decision to lift restrictions on imports of pork containing ractopamine and on US beef from cattle older than 30 months, effective Friday. Ractopamine remains banned from use in domestic livestock farming.
Executive Yuan Secretary-General Li Meng-yen (李孟諺) said that ordinances by several local governments requiring zero tolerance for ractopamine in pork are causing confusion, not only because they conflict with Cabinet-level directives, but they also contradict one another.
Since the central government is responsible for enforcing food safety regulations, there should be a unified regulation so that the public is not at a loss as to what to do, he said.
The Executive Yuan would address the issue once it has gathered more opinions from local governments, Li added.
However, Yeh said that the Local Government Act (地方制度法) stipulates only that autonomous regulations carrying penalties must be sent to the central government for approval.
Those without penal measures can take effect immediately upon passage by a county or city council, and are not subject to central approval, he said.
While the Council of Grand Justices is deliberating a case, regulations established by local authorities remain in effect and cannot be overturned, modified or suspended by the central government, he added.
If the Democratic Progressive Party administration insists that local regulations are illegal or unconstitutional, local councils should in principle support local governments in filing for a constitutional interpretation, Yeh said.
City and county governments could also form a coalition to file for an interpretation by the grand justices, and the KMT headquarters would provide assistance if requested, he said.
The decision to label the local regulations as contradictory would be determined by the central government’s own political wisdom, Yeh added.
Additional reporting by CNA
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