Budget cuts hit top prosecutor’s bonus
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-14 05:12 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday approved the central government budget for 2014, but it completely removed a NT$431,000 (US$14,000) year-end bonus for embattled Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming.

On the final day of its current session, the Legislature cut about NT$24.5 billion (US$815 million) or 1.26 percent from the government’s spending plans to end with NT$1.916 trillion (US$63.7 billion) instead of the proposed NT$1.94 trillion (US$64.5 billion). Revenue was revised from NT$1.73 trillion (US$57.6 billion) to NT$1.7 trillion (US$56.8 billion).

The ruling Kuomintang used its majority in the Legislature to vote down more than 30 opposition proposals, including the removal of year-end bonuses for President Ma Ying-jeou and the members of the Cabinet, the 18-percent preferential interest rate for retired military staff, teachers and civil servants, and the renegotiation of the service trade pact with China.

DPP caucus official Lawrence Kao said this year’s cuts were about the deepest in a central government budget since Ma took office in 2008.

Huang not only saw his year-end bonus disappear, but his Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division (SID) lost a total of NT$750,000 (US$24,900) for a total in cuts amounting to more than NT$4.3 million (US$143,000), reports said. In addition, lawmakers from ruling and opposition camps united to freeze half the budget of the SID, with a reversal only possible after the body presented a report to the Legislative Yuan’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.

The measures targeting Huang were approved without votes, reports said. Cuts aimed at the Control Yuan proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party were nevertheless rejected. The government watchdog body earned the anger of the opposition by failing twice to impeach Huang, allowing him to remain as prosecutor-general. Calls for its abolition have been growing, with the opposition reportedly contemplating a boycott when the president nominates a new list of 29 Control Yuan members later this year.

Huang has said he would only resign if the Control Yuan impeached him or if the Taipei District Court found him guilty in the current case against him. He was indicted for leaking confidential information from the influence-peddling investigation against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to the president.

Public pressure against Huang to resign before his term ends in April has been enormous, but the top prosecutor still wants the court to rule on his case first.

The case also provoked doubts about the abuse of wiretaps against lawmakers. On Tuesday, the Legislative Yuan approved an amendment stipulating that a wiretap warrant could only be used against one particular subject.

Whoever abused information obtained through wiretaps could receive a prison sentence of up to three years, according to another amendment approved Tuesday.

Recorded content had to be picked up at least once every three days, and content unrelated to the case at hand could not be used, reports said. The government organizations conducting the eavesdropping would also have to present an annual report about their activities to the Legislative Yuan for review, the new rules said.

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