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September 25, 2017

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Legislature passes '14 budget, wiretap ruling

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed the government's 2014 annual budget proposal and announced a cross-caucus resolution to cut annual expenditures by NT$24.5 billion.

The 2014 annual budget was proposed last year, and projects revenues of NT$1.7333 trillion, a decline of NT$2.5 billion compared with 2013, and expenditures of NT$1.9407 trillion, an increase of NT$33.1 billion from 2013's budget.

The Legislature amended the revenue figure to NT$1.7068 trillion and the expenditure to NT$1.9162 trillion. The Legislative Yuan allowed the Cabinet to raise the debt to NT$273.4 billion, comprising the new shortfall of NT$209.4 billion and the 2014 required repayment of NT$64 billion.

The opposition proposed to freeze or cut annual bonuses for the president, vice president, premier and ministers; however the proposal was rejected by the Kuomintang (KMT) caucus.

During the Yuan Sitting, the Legislature also voted on the opposition's proposal to restart cross-strait trade pact service negotiations, which failed to pass.

As for Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming's (黃世銘) NT$431,000 annual bonus, and the Special Investigation Division's (SID) overtime pay of NT$750,000, both the ruling party and the opposition agreed to delete them.

Wiretap Operation Rule Changed

The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed the amendment to the Communication Security and Surveillance Act, which stipulates that should prosecutors require monitoring of an individual, they have to file an official report to justify their reasons and apply for a warrant from a district court.

The newly amended article regulates that one wiretapping warrant is required to monitor one person for one criminal case only, which means that if the individual is allegedly involved in a second case, prosecutors must apply for another warrant in order to keep up their surveillance.

Huang, who is in charge of the SID, last September held a press conference revealing the content of phone conversations between Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), condemning Wang for his involvement in an alleged influence-peddling case.

The SID claimed that while wiretapping Ker for another case, it discovered the alleged improper lobbying case involving Wang. A few weeks after the press conference, the SID was found to have monitored the Legislative Yuan's switchboard for over a month.

Both the ruling party and the opposition lashed out at the SID, saying it abused its power to wiretap people; in light of this, the Legislature's Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee during the legislative session discussed amending the Communication Security and Surveillance Act to raise the bar for wiretap warrant applications.

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