The Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) yesterday approved a preliminary budget of NT$167.3 billion (US$5.6 billion) for public infrastructure projects next year, the lowest level in 12 years.
The figure is 4.4 percent less than the NT$175 billion approved last year, the council said.
The budget, compiled by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), does not include projects that cost less than NT$1 billion.
Jeremy Chen (陳世璋), director of the council’s department of supervision and evaluation, attributed the declining spending on public infrastructure over the past four or five years to the nation’s declining tax revenue.
“With declining tax revenue, we have to find a balance between the needs of each government agency and the budget constraints set by the DGBAS,” Chen said at a press conference.
The council said that the budget for revitalizing farming villages and for Aborigines and outlaying islands remained the government’s top priority.
The council is planning to apply for Cabinet approval to increase next year’s budget by NT$36.07 billion, including NT$5.3 billion for developing Taipei’s National Biotech Park, NT$2 billion for new sewage system construction and NT$2.5 billion for the Mass Rapid Transit System projects in New Taipei City (新北市), he said.
“Although most people expected the government to increase public spending to boost the economy, the government’s financial situation does not allow us to do so,” Chen said.
However, the government may propose an expansionary budget plan if tax income grows in the second half of this year, he said.
Of the NT$167.3 billion budget approved by the council, about 31.4 percent will be spent on railroad transportation, 22.1 percent on highway projects, 11 percent on agricultural infrastructure and 8.4 percent on education, culture and sports, the council said.
Spending on water resources and flood prevention accounts for 8.1 percent, while that for building and repairing sewage facilities accounts for 6.2 percent, the council said.
The budget will be sent to the Cabinet for approval and then submitted to the legislature.