No joint bid for infrastructure funds, says Ko

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) Saturday dismissed claims of an agreement with New Taipei City to jointly lobby for the inclusion of the “three loops and three lines” project into the Cabinet’s NT$880 billion infrastructure plan.

The “three loops and three lines” is a series of new MRT line and station projects connecting Taipei City to parts of New Taipei City.  Ko called the New Taipei press release announcing the bid “rather strange,” adding; “Who reached a consensus with it?”

New Taipei’s Friday statement came after its deputy mayor, Yeh Hui-ching, met with her Taipei counterpart Teng Chia-chi earlier on that day. Ko said he would attend a public hearing on FIDP set to be held by the Legislature on April 17. Taipei City spokesperson Liu Yi-ting said the mayor would attend the hearing in a bid to persuade the Cabinet to allocate funds from the “forward looking infrastructure development plan” for his city’s various infrastructure projects. Liu said Yeh and Teng did meet to discuss major infrastructure projects, but they had yet to reach a consensus on the details.

New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu said he would also be at the Monday hearing. Chu had previously said that his deputy Yeh would attend in his stead.

Asked to comment on Ko’s denial of a consensus with New Taipei, Chu said that “as long as Mayor Ko is happy, and we’re working to meet citizens’ needs, it doesn’t matter what he says.” Chu, speaking on the sidelines of a public event, said he would go to the Legislature on Monday to seek support from lawmakers for his city’s infrastructure development plans.

He said the extensions to the Greater Taipei MRT system would be very important for New Taipei’s citizens over the next 10 years.

Premier Lin Chuan unveiled the eight-year infrastructure plan in March.

Lin said the plan would improve the nation’s infrastructure and boost domestic demand.  The plan seeks to allocate over NT$24 billion for the development of green energy; NT$46 billion for digital infrastructure; about NT$137 billion for urban and rural infrastructure; more than NT$250 billion for waterworks; and some NT$424.3 billion for rail extensions. On Friday, President Tsai Ing-wen announced that the FIDP would allocate fund for extending Taichung’s MRT line to the neighboring Changhua County.