Mon, May 14, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Liu outlines plan to fight national debt

PRESSING:With deficits running high, the government is under pressure to find a way to reduce the country’s debt, which now amounts to about NT$220,000 per person

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Finance Christina Liu (劉憶如) is expected to address the issue of the rising national debt today at the Legislative Yuan’s Finance Committee meeting, according to a draft of the Ministry of Finance’s report submitted to the legislature.

The draft report, a copy of which was obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister publication), showed that Liu would tell lawmakers of the ministry’s plans to manage the country’s debt, including targets to cut the national deficit between NT$20 billion to NT$40 billion (US$680 million to US$1.36 billion) annually.

The report also lists proposals that would call on the government to maintain its annual expenditure at the current level and strive to achieve a balanced budget within a decade.

The draft report follows recent statistics from the ministry indicating the national debt has increased for the sixth consecutive month and now stands at NT$5.225 trillion — including NT$4.968 trillion in long-term debt and NT$257.1 billion in short-term debt. Figures showed that at the end of last month the national debt stood at NT$5.158 trillion.

The country’s debt increased to the equivalent of NT$220,000 per person as of the end of last month, compared with NT$204,000 as of the end of October last year.

The national debt is set to hit NT$5.947 trillion in 2016, the report indicates.

On Friday, Liu told reporters that she was ready to start discussions on managing the national debt with government officials, academics and representatives from social groups. This is one of three issues the ministry plans to tackle to improve the nation’s finance woes, including local government financial problems and idle state-owned assets.

In March, Liu said her ministry would announce its plan to reduce the central government’s debt in two months in response to requests from several members of the Finance Committee. At the time, she said cutting the government deficit would be a challenging mission given its potential economic impact.

The government faces a NT$209.5 billion deficit this year with its annual budget for the year projecting revenues of NT$1.7295 trillion and expenditures of NT$1.939 trillion.

Last year saw a revised NT$142.6 billion deficit, according to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

Additional reporting by Amy Su

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