Legislature reaches initial consensus on infrastructure plan

Taipei--Ruling and opposition legislative caucuses have reached a consensus on a special budget request for a major infrastructure plan, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming said Wednesday.

The caucuses agreed to revise the request of NT$880 billion (US$28.86 billion) over eight years for the "forward-looking infrastructure development plan" by dividing the implementation period into two four-year phases and capping the budget for each phase at NT$420 billion, Ker said.

Opposition Kuomintang caucus whip Lin Wei-chou said the four-year timeline and the NT$420 billion for the plan's first phase was acceptable to the party, but it could still not accept that the majority of the funding was earmarked for light rail construction.

The government plan, characterized by the opposition as pork-barrel spending ahead of local elections in 2018, proposes to spend NT$882.5 billion over eight years on light rail, digital, green energy and water infrastructure.

A total of NT$420 billion of that was earmarked for light rail construction.

In Wednesday's negotiations between rival legislative caucuses, lawmakers agreed that after the first four-year phase is completed, the budget and implementation period of the next phase cannot exceed those of the first phase.

This means the total budget for the plan will be capped at NT$840 billion over eight years, Ker said.

There was no consensus on the content of the proposal, however, and the KMT will submit a proposal to cut funding for light rail development that will be decided by a vote, Ker said.

KMT legislative caucus convener Lin Te-fu said the KMT caucus wants the budget for light rail construction be kept at less than one-third of the total.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council