《TAIPEI TIMES》 Budget stalls as parties jostle for chair
QUALIFIED? The joint meeting of seven committees to review the infrastructure budget ended as lawmakers bickered over who should preside over the meeting
By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporter
Discussion of the phase-one spending for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program yesterday failed to progress after lawmakers disagreed over who should preside over the joint committee review.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Jung-chang （王榮璋） took the chairman’s seat at the meeting yesterday morning, but Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） lawmakers questioned his qualifications and paralyzed the discussion.
“Who should chair the joint committee review is a matter that should be settled by cross-party talks,” KMT Legislator William Tseng （曾銘宗） said by telephone last night.
The KMT legislative caucus was still meeting at press time last night to discuss tactics for the continued review today.
Seven legislative committees are to review this year’s NT$108.9 billion （US$3.58 billion） special budget to bolster infrastructure facilities on town and village levels, as well as enhance the nation’s water engineering projects, railways and digital infrastructure.
The budget is part of the NT$420 billion Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program to achieve a bigger goal over four fiscal years.
With a majority in the legislature, DPP legislative caucus members insisted it was legal and proper that Wang — one of the two conveners at the Finance Committee — preside over the review, in accordance with committee rules.
KMT lawmakers disagreed, saying special arrangements should be made for special legislative sessions.
The lawmaking body is calling extraordinary meetings in the summer recess to review the special spending program.
Opposition lawmakers took turns to occupy the podium and protest Wang’s chairmanship.
“We will not acknowledge the meeting or its decisions,” KMT caucus convener Lin Te-fu （林德福） said.
DPP and KMT lawmakers took to the floor and surrounded Wang, leaving him no choice but to break up the assembly and call for closed-door negotiations yesterday afternoon.
The negotiations failed to bear fruit because Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan （蘇嘉全） was absent on functional duties in southern Taiwan, Tseng said.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming （柯建銘） said by telephone that the DPP preferred to wait and see how the KMT caucus meeting goes before making its next move.
Opposition lawmakers were displeased that Su sent the spending bill to committee review despite their protest last week.
Su announced the move following a brawl between ruling and opposition lawmakers that was picked up by international media.
Lawmakers yesterday scuffle during a meeting to review the budget for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Photo: CNA