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Lawmakers set to vote on reconstruction bill swiftly

Lawmakers set to vote on reconstruction bill swiftly

Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) Legislators of the ruling and opposition parties have reached consensus Tuesday to swiftly pass the special reconstruction bill in the legislature so as to help victims of Typhoon Morakot rebuild their homes as quickly as possible.
Legislators of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and other smaller parties reached the agreement earlier Tuesday in a meeting, a three-day extraordinary session called by Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to screen the bill.
During the meeting, lawmakers gave their approval to the draft bill to allow it to be quickly referred to a legislative meeting for a final approval before the extraordinary session ends on Thursday.
Typhoon Morakot, which brought severe flooding and mudslides to Taiwan from Aug. 7-10, killed 292 people, with another 385 missing, most of whom are residents buried by a landslide in Siaolin Village, Kaohsiung County. A vast majority of the victims are residents from Taiwan's indigenous tribes.
Morakot also caused tens of billions of dollars in losses in the agricultural, livestock and fish farming sectors, sending prices of vegetables, fruits, fish and meat soaring in Taiwan's retail markets. Lin I-shih, head of the KMT's central policy committee, said legislators from the various parties will immediately start negotiations on the draft bill on Wednesday, as they remain widely divided on the scale of the budget.
The KMT version of the bill proposed a NT$100 billion (US$3.03 billion) budget to finance the special reconstruction bill, while the DPP version called for double that amount -- NT$200 billion or more -- without setting a limit.
Earlier the same day, a group of about 90 typhoon victims and some 40 social activists protested in front of the Legislative Yuan against the special reconstruction bill, which they said was a "rash" piece of legislation concocted in just three days.
The protesters harshly criticized the KMT and DPP for looting and trying to profit from other people's misfortune, with Tsai Chi-hsun, secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, accusing the government of drafting the bill "behind closed doors" without listening to the victims' voices.
Three female DPP lawmakers -- Tien Chiu-chin, Kuan Pi-ling and Huang Shu-ying -- accepted the protesters' petition and promised to hand it over to the party's legislative caucus.
Also protesting at the scene were members of the Land Bank of Taiwan's workers' union. They demanded Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der resign from the post to take the responsibility for the government's idea of selling the profitable state-owned bank as a means of seeking funds for its post-typhoon rehabilitation projects.
Protesters demanded that Lee step down for trying to sell the bank for a value that it can earn in less than four years.
Meanwhile, Vice Minister of the Interior (MOI) Lin Chung-sen said last week that the government is projected to complete reconstruction in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot in three years at an estimated cost of NT$100 billion.
If passed by the Legislature, the bill will authorize the executive branch to raise a special budget of NT$100 billion in three years to finance various post-typhoon rehabilitation and reconstruction projects on public infrastructure and resettlement of displaced typhoon victims, Lin said.
According to Lin, the Executive Yuan has already paid NT$6.6 billion in reconstruction funds to various county governments whose districts were hit hardest by the disaster.
(By Flor Wang)




Updated : 2021-07-31 22:32 GMT+08:00