Sun, Aug 20, 2017 - Page 3 News List

National defense spending to increase

PEOPLE POWER:About 46% of the Ministry of National Defense budget next year is expected to be spent on personnel costs, including replenishing pension reserves

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The national defense budget increase proposed by the Executive Yuan for fiscal 2018 is to be largely spent on personnel, while funding for equipment purchases is to be decreased by NT$5 billion (US$164.8 million), a Ministry of National Defense senior official said.

The budget was separated into personnel, operational and equipment purchase costs, with personnel costs being the largest spending category in the past few years, increasing to NT$147 billion in fiscal 2017, the source said.

Personnel costs are expected to stand at NT$4.5 billion, with an additional NT$2.5 billion budgeted for pension payouts due to an increasing deficit in pension reserves, the source said.

Estimated at NT$154 billion, personnel costs are expected to take 46 percent of the ministry’s budget next year, the source added.

The source said that the ministry deducted military equipment purchases to satisfy growing personnel costs, comparing the estimated NT$78.8 billion in fiscal 2018 with the NT$83.7 billion in fiscal 2017.

The defense budget is the No. 1 expenditure in fiscal 2018 at NT$331.8 billion, or 16.71 percent of the total annual budget. The Ministry of Education is No. 2 at NT$240 billion, or 12.09 percent, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare is No. 3 at NT$217.9 billion, or 10.98 percent, the Executive Yuan said.

The Council of Agriculture received the largest budget bump, up by 10.61 percent at NT$12.6 billion. The defense ministry budget is to increase by 3.91 percent to NT$12.5 billion, and the health ministry budget is to increase by 3.97 percent to NT$8.3 billion, the Executive Yuan said.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ budget is to decrease by 25.84 percent, or NT$28.4 billion, while the Ministry of Science and Technology’s was slashed by NT$7.1 billion, or 14.16 percent, the Executive Yuan said.

Central government subsidies to municipalities, counties and cities have been slashed by NT$4.2 billion, or 2.57 percent, the Executive Yuan added.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party legislators said that the defense budget increase showed that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration was concerned with national defense, despite the budget allocation not reaching 3 percent of GDP.

The necessary funding would be allocated should the military’s all-volunteer service program, arms-purchase deals and indigenous planes and ships be successful, DPP legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said.

Additional reporting by Tseng Wei-chen

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