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  • Interpretation
  • No.391
  • Date
  • 1995/12/08
  • Issue
    • May the Legislative Yuan, without changing the total amount of the general budget, add, delete or adjust the amount of individual items within each or among different government agencies and in the form of individual member’s proposals, as in the review process of a statutory bill, without violating the Constitution?
  • Holding
    •        In accordance with Article 63 of the Constitution, the Legislative Yuan has the power to review budgetary bills. In reviewing the general budgetary bill of the Central Government, Members of the Legislative Yuan are restricted by Article 70 of the Constitution, which states that “[t]he Legislative Yuan shall not propose to increase expenditures over the budgetary bill presented by the Executive Yuan[,]” and other related Interpretations of this Yuan. While reasonable deletions and reductions may be made, in light of the difference in nature between a budgetary and a statutory bill, the review process of a budgetary bill cannot apply, mutatis mutandis, to the process of [enacting] a statutory bill which may be revised provision by provision and word by word, so that the designated budgetary amount for each agency may be shifted, added or reduced among different items and the originally budgetary item may be added or reduced. As far as shifting, addition or cost overrun of a budgetary item is concerned, it cannot be said that this is not a type of increase of expenditure as indicated in the Constitution. Furthermore, it involves the revision and adjustment of the contents of policy implementation and planning, which can easily result in the successfulness or failure of a policy being unaccounted for, and politics of accountability being difficult to establish, hence violating the separation of Executive and Legislative power and the principle of checks and balances, which shall not be permitted by the Constitution.
  • Reasoning
    •        In accordance with Article 63 of the Constitution, the Legislative Yuan has the power to review and resolve statutory or budgetary bills or bills concerning martial law, amnesty, a declaration of war and conclusion of peace or treaties. Based upon written and unwritten parliamentary rules of the Legislative Yuan concerning the review and resolution process for different kinds of bills, there are those that require Three Readings (such as budgetary and bills of act), or only Two Readings (bills other than budget and statute), or ostensibly Two Readings but do not involve substantive, provision-by-provision discussions before the final vote is cast. This [last category] normally concerns a treaty or international written agreement. Any amendment of a provision or adjustment of language to the original bill submitted by the Executive Yuan would inevitably reopen international negotiations. This is almost impossible if it concerns a multilateral convention, so the legislative body only carries the power of voting up or down [of the bill in its entirety]. These differences all result from the differences in nature of a given bill.
      
    •        There are also particularities to a budgetary bill that render it different from a statutory bill: First, any and all related Yuan or Members of the Legislative Yuan may propose bills of act, but only the Executive Yuan may propose budgetary bills; Second, there is no time limitation on the proposition, review and resolution of a statutory bill; time limits do apply to the proposition and review of a budgetary bill because it concerns the government’s revenues and expenditures of the entire fiscal year and must be enacted within a certain time frame; in addition, there is also a difference in the fundamental character of a budgetary and statutory bill. A statute (or law) is a set of abstract regulations concerning the rights and obligations of no particular individuals (including government agencies and the general public), and can generate its regulatory effect repetitively and without limitation. A budgetary bill contains concrete figures that indicate the expenses needed to maintain the normal operations and carry out all kinds of policy planning of a government agency, which expires once every year after being implemented once. Thus, the content of regulations, subject matter to be regulated and continuity of the two are different. Substantively, a budgetary bill is a type of administrative act but because of the principle of constitutional democracy, it must be reviewed and resolved by the legislative body in order to have the form of a law. Hence, it may be referred to as law of measures (Massnahmegesetz) in light of its differences from an ordinary statutory bill. Current practices of the Legislative Yuan in its review of a budgetary bill often contain a resolution under the item of a certain government agency that the total [budget] is to be reduced by a certain dollar amount, with details to be adjusted ab initio by that agency. This further demonstrates the fundamental differences in the review and resolution process of a budgetary bill and a statutory bill: in a statutory bill, under absolutely no circumstances may an enforcing agency adjust ab initio the language or sequence of a statute after it has already being enacted. Therefore, the review and resolution process concerning a budgetary bill possess the nature of granting an approval to certain administrative measures, i.e., annual policy planning and implementation, and cannot apply, mutatis mutandis, to the review process of a statutory bill which may be revised provision by provision and word by word, so that the designated budgetary amount for each agency may be shifted, added or reduced among different items and the originally budgetary item may be added or reduced. Such has in substance changed the contents of policy implementation and planning, which can result in the successfulness or failure of a policy being unaccounted for, and politics of accountability being difficult to clarify, hence violating the constitution principle of the separation of Executive and Legislative power.
      
    •        Furthermore, Article 70 of the Constitution stipulates, “[t]he Legislative Yuan shall not propose to increase expenditures over the budgetary bill presented by the Executive Yuan.”In reviewing and resolving the general budget of the Central Government, the Legislative Yuan shall be restricted by this provision. Nor may the Legislative Yuan propose to increase the expenditures outside of a budgetary bill and in the form of a member’s proposal, as [clarified] by this Yuan’s Interpretation No. 264. While the total amount of the general budget is not subject to change in the review process of the Legislative Yuan, only the designated budgetary amount for each agency may be shifted, added or reduced. Yet as far as shifting, addition or cost overrun of a budgetary item is concerned, it cannot be said that this is not a type of increase of expenditure as indicated in the Constitution. This is not much different in substance from the situation where the general budgetary amount may not have been increased, but addition of expenditures is nevertheless made outside of a budgetary bill and in the form of a member’s proposal. This involves the change and adjustment of policy planning and implementation, which can result in the successfulness or failure of a policy being unaccounted for, and politics of accountability being difficult to establish, which is not permitted by the Constitution. If the Legislative Yuan should not concur with an important policy as reflected in the budgetary bill submitted by the Executive Yuan, it may, [by resolution,] transmit the portion in question to the Executive Yuan for policy alteration in accordance with the constitutionally mandated process, and the related budgetary items will naturally be adjusted accordingly. Or in the event improper expenditures are discovered in the review of a budgetary bill, reasonable reduction or deletion can be made so that the goals of monitoring the implementation of policies and avoidance of abusive expenditure that results in the overburdening of the people can be accomplished.
      
    • *Translator by Professor Andy Y. Sun.
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