TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Legislative Yuan set a maximum budget limit of NT$120 billion for post-typhoon reconstruction on the final day of a special session Thursday.
The government originally proposed NT$100 billion as a maximum limit, but the opposition Democratic Progressive Party wanted NT$200 billion as a minimum.
The Legislature also voted that public borrowing should be used to finance reconstruction, and not the sale of shares in state enterprises such as the Land Bank of Taiwan, as the Cabinet originally wanted.
In addition, the government reconstruction committee will have to count at least one fifth of members recruited from typhoon victims or from aboriginal communities.
The package approved by the Legislative Yuan also paved the way for the resettlement of entire villages to new areas, a topic which elicited protests from some typhoon victims and lawmakers alike.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chen Ying kneeled in the middle of the main Legislative Yuan assembly hall for a short time Thursday to voice her protest against the policy.
Chen, an aboriginal, said the removal of the residents from their villages would lead to the destruction of local culture and customs.
On the ground, the military began resettling people evacuated from the disaster areas in military settlements Thursday despite partial opposition.
The Ministry of National Defense said it could offer 7,000 beds at five abandoned military camps and at five centers still in use.
The process of temporary resettlement, which is expected to be completed by August 31, provoked resistance from some residents and from aboriginal lawmakers.
Some of the typhoon victims also complained to the military of being treated like animals, and being shoved around from one makeshift home to another.
On Thursday, a group of 480 residents of Taoyuan, Kaohsiung County, left the Buddhist pilgrimage center of Fokuangshan to the Fenghsiung military training center in Yenchiao.
The MND promised it would improve some of the facilities for the new residents’ benefit. The kitchen equipment and the bathrooms elicited criticism from the new arrivals, reports said, but a play area with toys and a smoking room met with approval.
The MND denied it would use military discipline to manage the new residents at its camps.
In order to prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases, masks were provided and a medical team was on standby 24 hours a day, the military said.
The military said Thursday that three of its soldiers were still in hospital being treated for the A (H1N1) swine flu virus, and another ten were being tested.
A Japanese medical prevention team donated rapid-test kits for leptospirosis to the Pingtung County health authorities for use in Wandan, where authorities announced Wednesday that 91 people were staying in hospital with the bacterial infection.
Wannei Village in Wandan Township has been hard hit by Typhoon Morakot, with general relief work and the cleaning up of homes and streets taking more than two weeks.
Leptospirosis apparently spread from the urine of animals such as rats and pigs through contaminated water to people’s wounds and eyes.
Over the past week, more than 100 residents of Wannei suffered high fevers. The health authorities advised residents not to walk around barefoot and to drink only boiled water.
The Council of Agriculture denied there were many dead animals in Wannei caught between dead trees, contributing to local health problems.
Timber from forests destroyed by the typhoon have blocked harbors in Southern Taiwan and made rescue efforts more difficult. A total of 100,000 tons of wood had been cleared, but 300,000 tons were still waiting to be removed, the COA said.