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Cabinet to press for passage of infrastructure budget: spokesman

2017/08/23 20:22:55

Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) The relevant government agencies will communicate with the legislative caucuses of the various political parties over the next two days to discuss passage of a special budget for a major infrastructure development plan, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Wednesday.

Hsu said Taiwan is lagging behind other countries in terms of infrastructure investment, as indicated by its drop from 19th to 21st in the 2017 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook published in June.

However, once the special budget of NT$108.90 billion (US$3.67 billion) for the first phase of government's "forward-looking infrastructure development plan" is passed in the Legislature, implementation will begin, he said.

Earlier in the day, the legislative caucuses held negotiations on the special budget, which has passed the first reading and must undergo second and third readings before it can be passed.

In an interview last week, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said he would be happy to talk with the opposition parties to ease their concerns over the allocation, after his attempts to present the budget were blocked twice by opposition lawmakers during an extraordinary legislative session last month.

Despite the lack of formal communication channels, Lin said, he had met privately with Kuomintang and New Power Party lawmakers to discuss issues related to the infrastructure development plan.

The premier said he would like to answer questions about the plan in the Legislature and is open to rational discussion on the issue in the interest of seeing the special budget clear the legislative floor soon.

The infrastructure budget has been stalled too long in the Legislature, Lin said, adding that it would take time to the see the benefits of the plan.

A special fund of NT$108.90 billion (US$3.67 billion) has been allocated for phase one of the public infrastructure program from September 2017 to December of 2018, pending legislative approval of the budget.

The government's total investment in the program over a four-year period is estimated at NT$420 billion.

(By Ku Chuan, Elaine Hou and Evelyn Kao)
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