Cabinet approves NT$60 bil. flood budget

By Lauly Li , The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Executive Yuan yesterday approved the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ (MOEA) draft proposal for a NT$60 billion six-year flood control plan, with the draft set to be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review.

The NT$60 billion plan will be taken up after the the expiry of the current NT$80 billion flood control plan, which will occur in January next year, the Cabinet said. Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said that since the existing flood control project was implemented in 2006, it has managed over 500 square kilometers of river basin in the last eight years, and the project has apparently eased the flood situation.

Jiang said that when Tropical Storm Kong-Rey hit Taiwan this August, magistrates in Southern Taiwan and lawmakers strongly expressed their requests to him for an extension the soon-to-expire flood management project. Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) during an interpellation at the Legislative Yuan said that the Cabinet values the issue of flood control, and deems that to amend current regulations is insufficient to manage the flood problem. He thus urged the MOEA to establish a special act to address the matter. Earlier in October, Chang told legislators that the draft will be delivered to the Legislative Yuan before the end of October. In light of the delayed delivery of the draft, legislators yesterday lashed out at Chang during the interpellation, saying that the Legislature might not review the MOEA’s draft. Chang apologized to lawmakers for breaking his own promise and said that the MOEA will send the bill to the Legislative Yuan within one week. Ministry of the Interior (MOI) chief Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said flood control is not the MOI’s main priority, but the Construction and Planning Agency will “definitely” assist the Water Resources Agency in terms of urban planning and land development.

Southern Taiwan magistrates in August demanded that the government offer them more funds for flood control. Lee had said that even if the government proposes a NT$600 billion budget, it would not solve the flood issue if counties keep extracting water from underground sources. Major Concept in New Act Vice Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) said that the government noticed many large land developments in the past had used materials that were not water-absorbent, thus contributing to flooding.

Duh went on to say that a key concept in the draft is that it will demand any future large land developments to adopt absorbent materials, “especially for urban areas,” he clarified.

When asked by a reporter how the government would raise funds for the NT$60 billion project, Duh said that it can be financed by raising the debt ceiling or selling government-owned stocks. He added that the NT$60 billion in funds can be budgeted annually.