Taiwan: Review of infrastructure bill stalled

Taiwan: Review of infrastructure bill stalled

In an unprecedented cabinet members are to be present at today’s cross-caucus negotiations to answer questions from lawmakers, a first in the legislature’s history

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators occupy the speaker’s podium in the Legislative Yuan yesterday in an attempt to block the passage of enabling articles for the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

The review of a draft act on the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program was yesterday stalled as a plenary legislative session saw extended debates with opposition parties demanding that the bill be re-examined.

A cross-caucus negotiation was called immediately after the plenary session began, and the New Power Party (NPP) demanded that the draft act be returned to a legislative committee for reconsideration and that Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and the Cabinet formally report on the infrastructure program to the Legislative Yuan.

The requests were seconded by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP).

NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said that a formal report by the premier is necessary because it is the Cabinet that should answer for the costly projects, not the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

The KMT caucus demanded that a feasibility assessment of all the projects be completed before a legislative review.

The DPP refused to return the bill for another round of committee discussions, as it plans to have the bill passed before the end of the extraordinary session tomorrow.

Following hours of cross-caucus negotiations, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), in an unprecedented move, approved a question-and-answer session for today’s cross-caucus negotiations.

During the session, party caucuses would be able to pose questions to the Cabinet before a clause-by-clause review of the draft act.

The negotiations are scheduled to start at 8:30am, with the NPP, the PFP and the KMT taking turns to question ministers over the program.

“There will still be room for negotiation and ministers would be present at the negotiation for questioning for first time in history,” Su said.

The measure is to make up for the lack of a full legislative debate of the draft act, because it received a committee review on May 15 without its details being debated as the DPP had the bill read out while the KMT caucus was seeking to disrupt the proceedings.

“The draft forward-looking act is not unmodifiable, and changes can be made in terms of construction projects and budgeting,” DPP caucus chief executive Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) said.

Meanwhile, during yesterday’s negotiations, KMT legislators occupied the podium in the afternoon to pre-empt the resumption of the legislative session.

KMT Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said that the caucus “had their sleeping bags ready” for an overnight occupation of the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan to stall the review of the draft.

Su criticized the KMT caucus, saying the party had broken a cross-caucus agreement of abiding by meeting procedures.

“Who can still believe in the KMT’s honesty? You [the KMT] should swallow your words and apologize to the public,” Su said.

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