Sat, Feb 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet working on plans to increase defense budget: Su

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said that the government is working on ways to increase the defense budget to 2.85 percent of GDP next year.

"That is the direction that we will be approaching," Su said in the legislature yesterday in response to a question from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Shen Fa-hui (沈發惠).

Shen had asked whether the Cabinet would be able to achieve this goal, which President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had set earlier this year.

Shen said this year's military budget amounts to 2.42 percent of GDP, and that additional funds of around NT$6 million (US$187,500) may be needed to reach the goal of 2.85 percent of GDP.

He asked Su if the Cabinet anticipated any problems in reaching the goal.

Su said he agreed with the idea of increasing the defense budget because Taiwan needed to beef up its military defenses.

"Taiwan is an independent country. China has never relinquished its ambition to use force against Taiwan, and its military is keeping up its regular military exercises. Under these circumstances, we do need more protection," Su said.

"As long as there is a constant foreign threat, I think it is natural for any country to take steps to protect itself," he added.

Su said that Beijing was increasing its military budget every year, making it an ever-present and growing threat to Taiwan.

"Increasing our military budget will also send a message to our enemy that our determination to defend our own country remains unchanged," the premier said.

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