Ruling party expects to pass infrastructure bill this week

Taipei--As the government-proposed "forward-looking infrastructure development plan" is set to enter the final legislative process this week, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers aim to push through a third reading of a set of special provisions on Wednesday to allow budgeting, according to Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (???).

After the third reading by Wednesday at the latest according to the DPP, the Executive Yuan is expected to decide on a proposal for four categories to be added to the infrastructure plan and a special budget for implementation of the development program.

The Cabinet hopes to have the proposal and the special budget approved by the Legislature during one of its on-going extraordinary sessions, sources have said.

DPP legislators expressed confidence during a luncheon meeting with Premier Lin Chuan (??) on June 29 that the special legislation will likely clear the legislative floor on Wednesday, according to Hsu.

Hsu said the Cabinet is adding the four categories in accordance with the wishes of the DPP Legislative caucus. They include measures designed to address the issues of food safety, low fertility, youth employment and talent cultivation.

The Executive Yuan introduced the plan in March, aiming to push for infrastructure construction in order to stimulate the local economy.

The government said it would spend a total of NT$882.5 billion (US$29.56 billion) over eight years for projects in the categories of light rail construction, digital infrastructure construction, green energy infrastructure construction, water resources infrastructure construction, and urban-rural infrastructure construction, but the plan's budget was capped at NT$890 billion.

Even after the four categories have been added, the extra NT$7 billion in the program's budget would be enough to cover the spending for these additional categories, Hsu added.

However, the opposition Kuomintang caucus proposed that the timeline for the infrastructure development plan should be shortened and some unreasonable parts of the plan should be adjusted, particularly what it described as "the huge amount" of NT$420 billion earmarked for light rail construction.

KMT legislative caucus convener Lin Te-fu (???) said the KMT caucus will make its stance clear during cross-caucus talks Monday.

Lee Hung-chun (???), a party whip of the People First Party, also warned that it is not possible for the Cabinet-proposed bill to clear the Legislative floor without revision.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel