IN THE DARK:New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu has asked for nearly half the total funds of the project, but he has not briefed local lawmakers on his proposals, the DPP said
Lawmakers representing New Taipei City yesterday called for swift approval of the NT$882.4 billion (US$29.35 billion) Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Project and criticized the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for attempting to block it, saying it contradicted New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) bid to secure funds from the project for city infrastructure.
The KMT caucus occupied the main chamber of the legislature yesterday, demanding that the project be returned to the Executive Yuan for reconsideration, a move that DPP lawmakers said was in contradiction with Chu’s bid to develop New Taipei City with the project’s funding.
After the Cabinet submitted the project for legislative review, the New Taipei City Government made several fund requests totaling NT$450.2 billion, including NT$375.6 billion for railway construction, NT$62.7 billion for water infrastructure, NT$9.6 billion for “renewable energy” development and NT$2.3 billion for urban development.
“The city government has requested a very large sum — more than half of the total budget of the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Project — but the KMT has occupied the legislative speaker’s podium and demanded that the project be returned. We are genuinely confused,” DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said.
The city government has not cooperated with local lawmakers to seek support for its hefty budget proposals and Chu, of the KMT, should brief the Cabinet about them, Wu said.
“Chu should discuss the budget proposals with lawmakers rather than asking us to accept them wholesale,” Wu said.
The project must be approved by the legislature, and is aimed at enhancing the nation’s regional development and economic momentum, regardless of the final amount allocated to New Taipei City, he said.
DPP Legislator Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧) urged the KMT not to boycott the project, saying that instead of excluding New Taipei City as the KMT claims, it actually includes the construction of an MRT line connecting the city’s Sansia (三峽) and Yingge (鶯歌) districts.
Chu did not communicate with local lawmakers about the budget proposals except through official documents, which had little effect on the city’s management, DPP Legislator Lu Sun-ling (呂孫綾) said
The budget proposed by the city government is unbalanced, with only NT$2.3 billion planned for urban development, but the city is in urgent need of road and parking space construction, DPP Legislator Chang Hung-lu (張宏陸) said.
Later yesterday, the city government agreed to the lawmakers’ request to meet with Chu to discuss the budget proposals to make a concerted effort to seek Cabinet approval for merging the proposals with the project.