Premier Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday defended the Cabinet’s drafting of the budget for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, saying it was neither illegal nor different from how previous administrations had drawn up their budgets.
Lin held a news conference yesterday afternoon at the Executive Yuan to explain the Cabinet’s budget requests for the program after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers blocked him from briefing the legislature earlier in the day.
Responding to KMT accusations that the budget proposals were illegal, Lin said he was at “a complete loss” as to which act the Executive Yuan had breached.
Lin said the KMT has been boycotting the budget because it believes the Cabinet has broken the law by making budget requests that lack long-term planning, as they only cover the early stages of projects under the program, whose overall budget and time frame are set at NT$420 billion (US$13.8 billion) and four years respectively.
The KMT also believes that since the program’s budget has been cut from NT$882.49 billion to NT$420 billion, along with the time frame, following the passage of the Special Act on the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program (前瞻基礎建設特別條例) last week, the Cabinet should have updated its budget proposals before sending them to the Executive Yuan for approval, he said.
Lin said the Executive Yuan drafted and approved the special budget proposals to show the legislature that it bears full responsibility for their content — unlike special budget requests made by former administrations, which were often not capped and were criticized as “blank checks.”
As such, even though those special budget requests had been approved, they could be subject to change and became only a reference for legislators, Lin added.
The special act stipulates that the projects should be divided into several stages, so the Executive Yuan budgeted funds for the first 16 months of the projects, he said.
“The budget proposals were made in exactly the same way previous special budgets had been planned. There is nothing illegal about them,” he said.
Setting fixed budgets for each stage of the program at this point is impractical and not feasible, because the budgets could be slashed during upcoming legislative reviews, in which case the Executive Yuan would have to adjust the distribution of funds, he said.
Lin said he did not see why the proposals should be redone as the KMT had demanded.
In related news, the Presidential Office yesterday denied rumors that Lin would soon be replaced by Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德).
The Presidential Office urged the public not to take the “fabrications” seriously.
Lai said the rumor stemmed from misleading news reports, adding that he fully supports Lin and his team.