Infrastructure bill passes new review

2017/05/15 17:21:27 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Infrastructure bill passes new review

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) A draft NT$890 billion (US$29.63 billion) infrastructure bill proposed by the government passed its first reading at the Legislative Yuan on Monday amid chaos.

The draft Special Statue for Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Projects was passed during a new review by a joint committee meeting.

The new review meeting was scheduled by the Legislature's Economics Committee convener after a first reading of the bill was passed at the Legislature late last month without any substantive review and after fierce protests from opposition lawmakers.

Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), who convened the meeting on April 26 that gave the bill its first reading, announced the next day that she had annulled the vote and rescheduled a second first reading for May 1.

Chiu said at that time on social media that she had failed to handle the review properly and that she promised to allow thorough discussion in the next review.

However, the schedule for a new review of the controversial draft bill was postponed to May 3 and May 4 and the bill remained stalled during the session, as opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers continued to block the bill, insisting that it be withdrawn and sent back to the Cabinet for redrafting.

On Monday, KMT lawmakers continued efforts to block the bill at the beginning of the review meeting, shouting slogans such as "first handle the motion to dismiss the meeting," and "invalid meeting, without complying with proper procedure."

However, the bill later passed its first reading after Chiu, who presided over the meeting, asked a legislative official to read the bill article-by-article and put it to a vote despite strong protests by KMT lawmakers.

The draft will now be sent to the legislature's general assembly meeting for second and third readings and for inter-party negotiations, before being submitted to the Cabinet.

Under the bill, the government will spend NT$890 billion over eight years on infrastructure projects around Taiwan, including new light railways, rail extension or improvement projects, green energy and digital construction projects.

KMT legislators, however, have taken issue with elements of the bill, saying that it lacks any comprehensive policy assessment and that the budget allocations are unfair and favor local governments controlled by the DPP.

The KMT caucus said its major demand is that the bill be returned to the Cabinet and re-written with the aim of having it amended to earmark NT$500 billion for the the government to spend over four years on infrastructure projects.

(By Chen Chun-hua, Justin Su and Evelyn Kao)

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