Sat, Nov 06, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Arms budget has no add-ons, says vice minister

WEAPONS Service and maintenance of the weapons systems will not require spending outside of the ordinary annual defense budget

CNA , Taipei

Vice Minister of National Defense Tsai Ming-hsien (蔡明憲) said yesterday that the special budget of NT$610.8 billion (US$18.23 billion) for arms procurements from the US will obtain three major items and will not require extra major spending afterwards, as had been speculated.

Tsai was referring to the special budget to buy six batteries of anti-missile Patriot III missiles, eight diesel-electric submarines and a squadron of 12 anti-submarine aircraft over a 15-year period starting 2005, saying that all relevant weaponry systems and parts are included in the special budget.

He said that the government will monitor spending carefully, adding that the expenditure for repair and maintenance, as well as the logistics for the three major arms procurement items, will be appropriated in annual budgets and will not require a need for further special budgets.

Tsai made the remarks during an question and answer session in the Legislative Yuan, reaffirming again the necessity and importance of obtaining the weapons.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) questioned remarks by Premier Yu Shyi-kun that those who oppose the arms procurement are in the same league as China, which he said has blocked the opportunity for rational debate on the issue.

The premier pointed out that China is the one who least wants Taiwan to procure arms.

Yu also said that the items in the new package are more advanced and therefore more expensive than those purchased in the past and that the legislators should not question the government on the items or the spending, but should engage in rational debate.

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