Taipei--The Legislative Yuan has scheduled an extraordinary session for later this month to review the budget for the first phase of a large-scale public works project that the government hopes will stimulate the economy.
Ker Chien-ming (???), the caucus whip of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said his party is planning to hold an extra session starting Aug. 21 to review the more than NT$100 billion (US$3.31 billion) budget, and he hoped the bill will pass its second and third reading by Aug. 31.
Ker said the DPP, which has a big majority in the Legislature, will invite Legislative Yuan Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (???) to call for lawmakers to meet for negotiations on the budget plan before the Legislature begins its review of the bill.
According to the DPP, Su is expected to bring DPP and opposition lawmakers together on Aug. 18 for talks between the DPP and opposition lawmakers on the budget. They are currently on summer recess after just completing another extraordinary session on July 21.
The DPP hopes that the budget plan will clear the floor of the Legislative Yuan before September, when the first stage of the implementation of the massive public work project is scheduled to kick off.
The budget plan passed a first reading during that session on July 19 amid clashes between lawmakers of the DPP and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), with water balloons thrown by KMT legislators flying all over the legislative floor.
KMT lawmakers have argued that the public works plan, dubbed the "Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program" by the government, is anything but forward-looking, lacks careful planning and is overstated. They also said the review violated legal processes and was unconstitutional.
The first phase of the four-year NT$420 billion infrastructure project was drawn up and submitted for legislative review after lawmakers passed a Special Budget Statute for Forward-Looking Infrastructure in early July.
The first stage of implementation is expected to cost a total of NT$108.90 billion from September 2017 to December 2018.
It will include NT$17.07 billion for railway transportation construction, NT$25.67 billion to improve the local water environment, NT$8.12 billion for green energy development, NT$16.17 billion for digital development, and NT$35.41 billion for urban and rural development.
It will also allocate NT$1.96 billion to build a better environment for children, NT$310 million to safeguard food safety, and NT$4.2 billion to cultivate talent.
The KMT caucus has asked its lawmakers to cut the budget for the first stage of implementation of the infrastructure plan or make a motion to freeze the budget plan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel