Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Legislators fire away at budget

BY Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday expressed outrage at what it called hugely increased weapons budget following a closed-door briefing with Vice Minister of National Defense Huo Shou-yeh (霍守業).

Prior to the legislature's National Defense Committee meeting, Huo visited the DPP's legislative caucus office to introduce the ministry's NT$610 billion budget for weapons procurement to DPP lawmakers and to ask their support for future votes on the bill.

"It seems to me that the ministry is extorting the legislature," said DPP Lawmaker Lee Wen-chung (李文忠).

"Huo only proposed a two-page brief about the NT$610 billion budget during the meeting. Why do we need this much? What are we going to buy? Huo's brief did not answer any of these questions," he said.

accounting

In response to Lee's complaint, Huo said that the budget would be used to purchase weapons from the US. During the negotiations, Huo said, "They [lawmakers] did ask us to prepare some accounting before our next conversation," Huo said.

According to Huo, in the process of weapons procurement nothing was certain until the ministry received the bills from the arms manufacturers.

"The budget is only an estimate," said Huo. "I will report the detailed prices to lawmakers at the National Defense Committee in the future when the invoices are available."

In fact, the annual budget submitted to the legislature never gives a detailed accounting for the categories of national defense and other intelligence agencies, for reasons of security.

submarines

However, after the meeting DPP Legislator Tang Huo-sheng (湯火聖) quoted Huo's report and said that approximately NT$400 billion would be used to purchase submarines as well as necessary expenses relating to them.

These would include the purchase of 144 MK48 torpedoes, 72 rockets as well as training for submarine personnel.

In addition, he said, the nation might also look to Spain and Germany regarding its purchase of submarines.

Although DPP lawmakers were complaining about the huge arms budget, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said that such weapons are needed.

"According to military an-alyses by the US, by 2005 the military balance across the strait will no longer exist and the Chinese military will be able to launch a large-scale attack toward Taiwan. We definitely need better defense," Yu said.

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