Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan ready to pay for arms, Ma says

Staff writer, with CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou, right, receives Richard Bush, director of the Brookings -Institution’s Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, in Taipei on Wednesday.

Photo: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said on Wednesday that his administration had allocated a budget for the procurement of weapons needed to ensure national security.

“As soon as the US government agrees to sell us F-16C/D aircraft, we have the earmarked funding to foot the bill,” Ma said during a meeting at the Presidential Office with Richard Bush, director of Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Since 2002, when Taiwan first proposed purchasing the F-16C/Ds to upgrade its air defenses, the government has ensured that the funding is in place to finance the deal, Ma said, adding that he hoped the US would make a decision as soon as possible.

Ma said the advanced fighter procurement plan was aimed at replacing aging aircraft and that the new jets would be used for defensive purposes.

On Taiwan’s defense spending, Ma said that before he took office, he had proposed that the defense budget be at least 3 percent of GDP.

Since taking office, he had worked hard to realize that goal, something the former Democratic Progressive Party -administration failed to achieve, Ma said.

“In 2009, we did not achieve our goal because of the worldwide economic recession, which impacted GDP growth. Last year, GDP grew by 10.88 percent year-on-year and the large increase in the comparison base meant that we again fell short ... but in absolute terms, the defense budget is an increase from the previous year,” Ma said.

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