Sun, Jun 05, 2005 - Page 3 News List

TSU backs raising defense spending to 3% of GDP

CNA , TAIPEI

A Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmaker expressed his support yesterday for a proposal to increase the country's annual defense spending to 3 percent of GDP.

Ho Min-hao (何敏豪), deputy convener of the TSU legislative caucus and a member of the legislature's National Defense Committee, pointed out that Taiwan's annual defense spending now accounts for 2.4 percent of GDP, which he said is lower than the 4 percent to 5 percent of Japan, the US and EU nations.

Ho said it is unreasonable that Taiwan is spending less on defense when it is facing the military threat from China.

By raising the ratio of defense spending, the government will be able to show the world its resolve to defend Taiwan and will facilitate the passage of its NT$480 billion (US$15.33 billion) arms procurement package from the US, Ho said.

Objecting to the Cabinet's plan to finance the procurement by a special budget, lawmakers from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) have proposed hiking the defense spending ratio in the hope that the arms procurement package can be accommodated in the government's annual budget.

Items in the package include a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft, six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries and eight diesel-electric submarines.

The KMT and PFP, which between them enjoy a slim majority in the legislature, have blocked the special budget proposal for the procurement package for two legislative sessions, mainly because of disagreement with the Cabinet over the budgeting method and the amount of the procurement.

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