Budget for 1st-stage infrastructure plan to enter negotiations

Taipei--Legislative Yuan Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (???) announced Friday that the budget for the first stage of implementation of the government's forward-looking infrastructure plan will enter negotiations between lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties after passing its first reading earlier in the week.

The more-than NT$100 billion (US$3.29 billion) phase-one budget for the massive four-year infrastructure plan is scheduled to clear the legislative floor by the end of August at the earliest after the negotiations, Su said.

The Legislative Yuan has planned an extraordinary session for late August for the second and third readings of the budget plan.

Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) arrived at the Legislative Yuan two hours ahead of the meeting. Soon after the venue of the meeting opened, they occupied the chairman's podium in a bid to prevent possible filibuster by their opposition counterparts and ensure that Friday's session would proceed smoothly.

The meeting started on schedule to deal with the budget for the first stage of the four-year forward-looking infrastructure plan, and decided to submit the budget for negotiations before the next extraordinary legislative meeting planned for late August.

While the meeting was proceeding, lawmakers of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) held up banners, shouting: "Meeting is invalid and review is illegal" and "Boycott of the budget is legitimate."

The budget for the first stage of the infrastructure plan was passed in its first reading on Wednesday amid continuing clashes between lawmakers of the DPP and the KMT.

A week earlier, the Cabinet approved a budget plan of NT$108.90 billion as the phase-one implementation of the four-year plan for the period of September 2017-December 2018.

The budget was written by the Cabinet after the Legislative Yuan passed a Special Budget Statute for Forward-Looking Infrastructure in early July.

The newly passed law allows the government to spend up to NT$420 billion over the next four years on the country's infrastructure, as well as high-tech development, in a bid to speed up the pace of economic growth, while the opposition says that the plan lacks careful planning and would be a waste of taxpayer money.

In the first stage, the Executive Yuan will spend NT$17.07 billion on rail transportation construction, NT$25.67 billion on improving the local water environment, NT$8.12 billion on green energy development, NT$16.17 billion on digital development, and NT$35.41 billion on urban and rural development.

In addition, the Cabinet will invest NT$1.96 billion on building a better environment for children, NT$310 million on safeguarding food safety, and NT$4.2 billion on cultivating talent.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel