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ROC Central News Agency

2005-03-22 18:27:20

    Taipei, March 22 (CNA) A Cabinet-proposed "statute for major arms procurement" failed to be put on the agenda for review at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday because of the opposition from the majority "pan-blue alliance" of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP).

    The KMT and the PFP caucuses of the legislature said that there are still disputes over the arms procurement proposal, and that the Cabinet should not list the arms procurement package for six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries, eight diesel-electric submarines and a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft from the United States under a special budget.

    This was the first time the statute was blocked since the Cabinet marked down the ceiling price for the procurement package from the original NT$610.8 billion to NT$480 billion (US$15.38 billion) because a plan to make the submarines in Taiwan was dropped, and because the new Taiwan dollar has appreciated against the U.S. dollar.

    During the discussions, KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-ming proposed that the arms procurement proposal be postponed from being put on the agenda, and his words led to verbal sparring among the ruling and the opposition legislators.

    Legislator William C. D. Lai, caucus whip of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in the legislature, said that as long as the prepared information is complete, all bills should be put on the agenda.

    Lai also took the chance to criticize KMT and PFP legislators for themselves proposing "money-pit" bills.

    Lee Yung-ping, PFP caucus whip in the legislature, said that most of the KMT and the PFP legislators were opposed to the arms procurement during the legislative elections late last year. Judging from the fact that the "pan-blue alliance" legislators won over half the seats in the 225-member legislature, the public is opposed to paying an exorbitant price for the major arms purchase and opposed to the listing the purchase under a special budget, Lee said.

    The Cabinet proposed a similar bill last year, but it, together with a proposed special budget for the procurement, was shelved by the legislature owing to objections from the majority "pan-blue alliance."

    After the proposed statute and budget were killed at the end of the last legislative term in January this year, the Cabinet had to re-submit them in the new legislature that started Feb. 1.

(By Lilian Wu)


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