President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday instructed the Ministry of Finance to handle the government’s finances more efficiently and seek solutions to the nation’s financial straits.
“The nation’s finances are relatively stable compared with other countries. However, we still suffer financial problems. It is important for us to be thriftier. Finding ways to generate more revenue is crucial, too,” he said at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.
The committee had invited Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) to report on the nation’s financial situation.
Chang said the government has suffered consecutive deficits for the past four or five years. The central government carries a debt of NT$4.9 trillion (US$160 billion), and with debt equal to 36 percent of GDP, it is nearing the legal debt ceiling of 40 percent.
The ministry will instruct central government bodies and local governments to save on regular expenditures such as electricity and other utility bills, paper and fuel, he said.
The ministry also formed a task force on the development of build-operate-transfer (BOT) measures to generate more revenue by seeking cooperation with private investors, he said. He said the government plans to sign 20 BOT projects within the next four years and generate NT$30 billion in tax revenue, he said.
Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, said the government should not raise the debt ceiling because that would make the nation too dependent on debt.
He encouraged all government bodies to save on regular expenditures, stressing that such savings were not personal thrift, but a goal that both local governments and the central government should work hard to achieve.