Budget of $142bn is unlikely to be approved before year-end Taiwan's legislature has refused to put a proposed budget of NT$610 billion (HK$142 billion) for an arms purchase from the US on its agenda, effectively ruling out the possibility of a deal being finalised before the end of the year. Yesterday's meeting of the legislative agenda committee was the last before its term ends next Wednesday. The lawmaking body will convene again after elections to be held on December 12. Before a vote was held on the controversial arms deal, rival camps confronted each other both inside and outside the legislature. During the debate, the two sides accused each other of ignoring the interests of the public. Democratic Progressive Party legislator Lee Wen-chung said failing to authorise the arms purchase 'would put Taiwan in danger in the face of growing missile threats from China'. In response, Lee Yung-ping of the opposition People First Party said the deal would only serve to provoke the mainland. The opposition has fought against the deal - which would include Patriot PAC-III anti-missile systems, P3C anti-submarine aircraft and conventional submarines - on the grounds it will spark an arms race with the mainland that would bankrupt Taiwan. Angry DPP lawmakers, who are eager to push through the deal in the face of growing US pressure, walked out of the legislature in protest at what they described as the 'majority brutality' of the opposition. Washington has repeatedly urged the government of President Chen Shui-bian to honour the arms deal, approved by US President George W. Bush in 2001, saying it would not want to send American troops to assist Taiwan if the island did not demonstrate a desire to upgrade its defence capabilities. Outside the legislature, supporters of the arms deal, led by several election candidates, shouted 'arms procurement, arms procurement' from a van decorated as a tank, while those opposed to the deal yelled 'no war, no provocation'. There were minor scuffles between the two camps, which were broken up by police. The anti-arms activists included a group of academics who had protested at the legislature since Sunday. One of the professors, Hsieh Ta-ning, who is head of the Democratic Action Alliance, is being sued by the Defence Ministry for alleging that the military bribed legislators to supporting the budget.