President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) cares about how the government budget affects programs for the underprivileged, and the Cabinet’s budget proposal for next year reflects those concerns, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said on Monday.
After a budget briefing given by Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and other Cabinet officials, Tsai said she promised during her election campaign to devote substantial resources to caring for older people and the disabled, and to improving food safety, Huang said.
Another budget priority cited by Tsai was devoting government funds to developing green energy, intelligent machinery and defense industries, Huang said.
In the Cabinet’s budget proposal, revenues are projected to increase 1.2 percent to NT$1.844 trillion (US$58.6 million) next year, while spending would rise 1.1 percent to NT$1.998 trillion, Huang said.
That would leave a projected shortfall of NT$153.6 billion, forcing the government to borrow NT$227.6 billion to balance the budget and because of a debt servicing obligation of NT$74 billion, the proposal showed.
The government plans to increase the budget for long-term care programs by 181 percent from this year, and to increase the funding for food safety efforts by 20 percent, in line with Tsai’s desire to make good on her campaign commitments, Huang said.
Funding for Aboriginal and Hakka affairs, as well as cultural and educational programs, would also increase in the next budget, reflecting promises made by Democratic Progressive Party candidates during the legislative elections, Huang said.
However, because Tsai also values fiscal discipline, her administration’s budget has adhered to two principles: The budget deficit must not exceed that of the previous year and debt growth must not exceed nominal average GDP growth over the three previous years, he said.
Outstanding debt as a percentage of average GDP over the past three years would be 0.2 percentage points lower next year compared with this year, he said.
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