The Ministry of Finance yesterday began publishing a monthly Web-based “Local Government Debt Clock” to remind local government agencies to watch their spending, with total public debt standing at NT$814.86 billion (US$27.18 billion) as of the end of last month.
Residents in Kaohsiung shouldered the heaviest debt burden, with public debt totaling NT$212.94 billion at the end of last month, translating into NT$76,700 per capita, the highest level among all local governments, ministry data showed.
The Miaoli County Government posted the second-highest debt with NT$71,000 per person, followed by the Taipei City Government with NT$62,000 per capita, statistics showed.
However, long-term debt — outstanding debt with a maturity of more than one year — for Yilan County, Miaoli County and Hsinchu at the end of May accounted for 70.57 percent, 57.59 percent and 49.14 percent of local authorities’ annual expenditure respectively, exceeding the statutory debt ceiling of 45 percent, a National Treasury Agency statement showed.
These results indicated that these three local governments posted the worst financial conditions of all, the agency said.
In related news, tax revenues increased 8.9 percent year-on-year to NT$342.2 billion, bringing overall revenue for the first six months to NT$1.045 trillion, up 4.8 percent year-on-year, the ministry said in its monthly report yesterday.
The NT$1.045 trillion level accounted for 106.2 percent of budget allotment, reflecting tax revenue had been higher than expected in the first half, the report said.
“The strong performance of individual income tax was the main driver raising overall tax revenues,” Hsu Ray-lin (許瑞琳), deputy director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
Revenue from individual income tax rose 21.9 percent year-on-year to NT$275.1 billion in the first six months, marking the highest level ever recorded for that period, the report’s data showed.
However, securities transaction tax revenues marked the lowest level since 2005 to total NT$38.3 billion in the first half, down NT$10.8 billion, or 22 percent, from the previous year, marking the sharpest fall among all tax brackets, data showed.
Hsu said the ministry remained optimistic that tax revenues could reach the government’s goal of NT$1.823 trillion, but securities transaction tax revenues might fail to achieve the ministry’s budget allotment at NT$126.5 billion this year.
To find a comprehensive solution to national financial problems, Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) led the ministry’s task force on national taxation and finance in their first meeting in Kaohsiung yesterday.
Chang said the ministry is focusing on possible measures to activate state-owned assets by operating models of build-operate-transfer and private-finance-initiative over the next four years.
“The ministry expects to launch 20 projects under these two models in four years,” Chang told reporters after the meeting.
The successful execution of the proposed projects might raise national coffers by NT$30 billion a year, Chang added.