The China Post staff
The proposal failed to earn approval in the last week of the Legislature’s previous session after bi-partisan negotiations broke down over opposition demands that NT$1.93 billion for similar works in Taipei City be included in the budget. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou had asked that the city get funds from the central government for three different projects, including work along the Neikou and Kuangkang Creeks and demolition of a bridge. Premier Yu Shyi-kun said funding was not allocated for Taipei City because the projects in question weren’t actually a part of flood prevention works along the Keelung River. Yu’s budget director Lin Chuan claimed that regulations prevented the Executive Yuan from subsidizing the projects in part because Taipei City is financially healthy compared to other local governments. As an example, government officials point out that Taipei City paid its own way for similar works undertaken when Hau Pei-tsun served as premier. Meeting Ma’s request would set a bad precedent and could lead to any number of similar requests for funding from Taipei City and other municipalities, Lin argued. Preliminary reports suggest that the premier will not back down from that position when he addresses the Legislative Yuan today. Yu is further expected to go back on an earlier concession that he made to Ma and opposition lawmakers. Earlier, Yu agreed to including NT$350 million in funding for works along the Neikou Creek in the budget proposal. Today he is expected to argue that under existing laws Taipei City should have to find funding for all three projects on its own. Yesterday Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Wang To seemed to hint that that will be the case when he said that the government’s budget director had been unable to come up with any item in the budget under which to include funding for work along the Neikou Creek. Please see FLOOD on page
Another justification Yu is expected to use is that flood prevention works in Taipei already far outstrip similar preventive measures along other parts of the Keelung River. Yu is expected to point out, as he has done before, that flood prevention works for Taipei City are designed to protect against a return period, or recurrence interval, of 200 years.
By contrast, preventive measures along the Keelung River and other major rivers in Taiwan are designed to cope with the “100 year flood”, a statistical designation used to refer to a flood that has a one percent chance of occurring in any given year. Taipei City is not being excluded, but rather other areas are being given a chance to catch up to the nation’s capital in terms of flood protection, Yu is set to argue. The Ministry of Economic Affairs expects to have spent NT$70 billion by the time work along the river is completed. The NT$31.6 billion included in the current budget has been earmarked for projects that urgently need to be completed, according to the premier.