8 -14 May, 2017
Civic Groups Protest Against President Tsai’s Special Act For Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program
Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong
On March 23, Premier Lin Chuan of the Executive Yuan announced to the public a Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program covering five major infrastructure projects: railway, acquatic environment, green energy, digital and urban-rural. “[The] investment under the infrastructure development bill is expected to reach approximately NT$882.49 billion (US$28.78 billion) over eight years (2017-2024), with approximately 85 percent devoted to new development projects and 15 percent to accelerating or expanding previously approved projects”, according to the Executive Yuan.
The fact that this ambitious forward-looking program did not received a good-will response from the opposition parties was understandable from Taiwan’s party politics, but it was indeed an unexpected development when the civic groups, who used to support the ruling Democratic Progressive Party on some soical and political issues, stood up to protest and condemn such mega-program as an arbitrary black-box decision.
On May 3rd, 29 civic groups, led by famous land economics expert Prof Hsu Shih-Jung, assembled before the Legislative Yuan urging the government to stop frivolous budgets and barrel politics on the special act for Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program.
Many blind spots of this infrastructure program were sharply criticized by civic groups, for example, upholding “special act” to facilitate raising the ceilings of public debt and avoiding the regulations of current codes like The Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, Budget Act, The Public Debt Act, and Urban Planing Law; the most budget-consuming railway infrastructure will inevitably turn out to be fatal money game of real estate development and speculation; a queer logic of aquatic environment infrastructure project still stick to the development-orientated engineering rather than the most urgent demands of water-resources-management; green energy project inclines to set up some mega-power-plant, new industrial or scientific park yet without an adequate impact analysis on the agricultural or fishery sectors.
Considering the annual budget of long-term care project, hailed as the terminator of the aging problem of Taiwan society, is abruptly cut from NT$ 30 billion to NT$ 17.75 billion which does not even reaches 3% of this grand infrastructure program, and total public debt of Taiwan government has reached NT$ 25 trillion meaning that the young generation have to sustain more final burdens than their forebears, civic groups urged Tsai administration to allow more civic groups taking parts into public hearings and legal review of this super giant infrastructure program!
Translated by Peter Wolfe