TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Legislative Yuan on Wednesday approved the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program (前瞻基礎建設計畫) after both sides made some concessions.
The third reading of the project marks another key step forward for the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), which earlier during the special legislative session also saw its reform of unfair pensions approved.
Under the agreement between ruling and opposition camps, the program will last four years and be allowed to spend NT$420 billion (US$13.7 billion) from a special budget, reports said. The original program had proposed NT$882.5 billion (US$28.8 billion) over eight years.
After the initial period, the Legislative Yuan can still discuss and vote on a second four-year phase costing a further NT$420 billion.
Both the cost of the program and plans to spend a large proportion of it on the construction of light railways have been blasted by critics. Other items include green energy, water projects, digital infrastructure, food safety, childcare, and rural and urban construction.
Later this month, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) is expected to present a report on the program to another special session of the Legislative Yuan.
Government officials will have to bear responsibility if elements of the program don’t work out as planned and will be referred to the Control Yuan, the nation’s top government watchdog, for eventual disciplinary action, reports said.
Unused funds will be returned to the government budget and not spent on other projects, while the relevant government departments will have to present annual reports on the progress made.