Sat, Nov 29, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Pan-purples criticize debt figures

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Alliance of Fairness and Justice, also known as the pan-purple alliance, yesterday said that the government was deep in debt and was not being transparent with its figures.

The alliance said that the government forecast of a NT$4.24 trillion national debt for next year was incorrect.

This figure, which would amount to 41 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), allowed the government to maintain that it could further increase borrowing before reaching the 48 percent ceiling permitted by law.

The alliance instead calculated that the government will actually owe NT$9.36 trillion, a much higher 91 percent of GDP and a proportion considerably higher than the average 60 percent in the EU.

The alliance said this was because the government was not being open with its figures.

"Most of the hidden debt comes from various bonds such as trusts and short-term bonds, but Taiwan's public bond law determines that these items do not have to be counted as debt," said Kan Jung-bao (康榮寶), an associate professor in accounting at the National Chengchi University and a leading figure in the alliance.

The alliance also said that, because of an unfair tax system that did not collect enough tax from the rich, the government has had to sell property and other valuable assets to cover its normal spending.

"After 2001, only 51 percent of the government's spending has been paid for out of tax revenue," alliance convener Chien Hsi-chieh said.

"That means for every 100 dollars the government spends, only 51 dollars come from tax. The government has to sell public land and shares to pay for the other 49 dollars," Chien said.

The alliance urged the government to put in place a more transparent financial system.

It said that all information regarding the budget and the national debt should be publicly available.

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