In an attempt to reorganize the central government, Cabinet officials and legislative caucuses have reached a preliminary consensus to set up 15 ministries and six councils, including two new agencies - Gender Equality and Ocean Affairs councils. They also decided to retain the Mainland Affairs Council.
The Cabinet had proposed a bill to adjust the central government organization and streamline agencies in order to clarify organizational structure and reduce redundant personnel. Last year, the Legislature passed the Central Government Agency Organizational Basis Law which stipulates that the Cabinet is allowed to establish 13 ministries and four councils, at most.
In an earlier version of the bill, the Cabinet planned to establish a National Development and Technology Commission, Ocean Affairs Council, Council for Hakka Affairs and Council of Aboriginal Affairs. The Kuomintang and Taiwan Solidarity Union legislative caucuses also proposed different versions of the bill.
However, after pressure from gender groups, lawmakers suggested the establishment of a Gender Equality Council and agreed that it was necessary to set up an agency to deal with ocean affairs. They have also decided to amend the Central Government Agency Organization Basis Law to increase the number of agencies.
After cross-party negotiations, lawmakers decided to retain the Cabinet-level MAC that is responsible for planning, coordinating, evaluating and implementing the government's mainland policies.
Chen Chun-lin (陳俊麟), vice chairman of the Cabinet's research, development, and evaluation commission, said he was optimistic that the amendment would be passed before the end of the current legislative session.
Chen said that the authorities concerned will adjust the manpower structure in agencies and related units next year, in accordance with the new amendment.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺), who is one of Organic Laws and Statutes Committee's conveners, said that while the Cabinet had proposed incorporating the MAC into its main body, the KMT and the People First Party, insisted on retaining the council's current status.
Lin said she suspected that the KMT and PFP had made the decision regarding the MAC because they anticipated that it would be difficult to pass a cross-strait peace advancement bill they had sponsored. Under the proposed cross-strait peace bill, a 19-member committee of academics and officials named by political parties based on their legislative representation would handle negotiations with China and decide on major cross-strait issues. PFP Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) had earlier said that if the bill passes, a 19-member committee would replace the MAC.
Regarding the Ocean Affairs Council, TSU Legislator Kuo Lin-yung (郭林勇) said it will be responsible for planning related policies but will not have the power to execute those policies. He therefore suggested that the Cabinet should establish a Ministry of Ocean Affairs to handle implementation.
Kuo also said the Gender Affairs Council would not only promote gender equality, but also protect gay and lesbian rights.