The pan-blue alliance of the Kuomintang and the People First Party is considering restoring the Mainland Affairs Council and other agencies' annual budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, after the two opposition parties relentlessly slashed approximately NT$26.7 billion and froze nearly NT$137.1 billion.
"If the MAC proposes concrete measures to improve the cross-Taiwan Strait development, the KMT will restore some of the council's budget," said Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), KMT legislative leader.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) will convene a cross-party negotiation today in an attempt to reach a consensus over the central government's 2006 annual budget, and the Legislature's second session may be prolonged from the end of December to January 13 next year.
The pan-blue alliance had proposed to cut around NT$26.7 billion and to freeze nearly NT$137.1 billion of the central government's annual budget at legislative committees before December elections.
The bulk of MAC's budget was cut, and only the funding for the council's personnel salaries was kept intact. Tseng said that the KMT cut the MAC's budget because the inactive council failed to propose measures to promote cross-strait development, such as direct charter flights.
After the pan-blue alliance cut the MAC's proposed budget, MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) repeatedly urged the Legislature to restore the council's budget to maintain normal government operations and implement major policies to promote development across the Taiwan Strait.
PFP legislative leader Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) said that if the council clearly explains its significance and functions, its annual budget will be restored.
Meanwhile, a part of Government Information Office's budget, around NT$640 million, was killed and approximately NT$1.9 billion was frozen.
Sun said the pan-blue alliance slashed the GIO's budget for 2006 because GIO Director General Yao Wen-chih's improper attitude angered pan-blue lawmakers and these lawmakers were also afraid that the GIO would block the establishment of the proposed National Communications Commission.
Tseng and Sun said the pan-blue alliance will not irrationally continue to boycott the GIO's budget now that the NCC has been set up.
In order to expedite the long-stored military procurement plan, the Ministry of National Defense had shifted the patriot missile costs to annual budgets and requested slightly over NT$300 billion in special funds for the submarines and anti-submarine aircrafts over 15 fiscal years.
Pan-blue lawmakers, however, still slashed NT$10.9 billion for the patriot missile costs and approximately NT$200 million for the related preparatory facilities for submarines.
The KMT and the PFP lawmakers are not considering accepting the adjusted national defense costs for the patriot missiles and special budget funds for the submarines and anti-submarine aircrafts.
KMT legislative whip Pan Wei-kang said the pan-blue alliance will continue to boycott irrational military procurement plan.
The pan-blue alliance also pointed out that they opposed the Cabinet submitting a special budget request to cover the costs for the major projects of public constructions.
PFP Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the Executive Yuan adopted a tacit strategy to force the Legislature to pass through special funds. The Cabinet predicted that the Legislature would not boycott the proposed special funds, he said, for if lawmakers veto the additional funding, major projects of public constructions will not be finished as scheduled, he added.
In addition, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party legislative convener Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) voiced his dissent, saying opposition parties engineered the budget cut because the officials did not fully communicate with opposition parties.
He said the Executive Yuan should persuade these lawmakers to support the proposed annual budget as soon as possible.