Tue, Aug 21, 2018 - Page 3 News List

New Southbound Policy budget to be boosted

By Lee Hsin-fang, Yang Mien-chieh and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Executive Yuan’s proposed budget for the New Southbound Policy next year might appear to be a reduction, but funding is actually being increased, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) said on Saturday.

The Cabinet proposal calls for a NT$6.7 billion (US$217.82 million) budget, compared with the NT$7 billion allocated to the policy this year, but the NT$7 billion included official developmental assistance (ODA) packages that distorted the actual budget figures, he said.

The Cabinet decided to reduce ODA spending next year to NT$500 million after there was a substantial amount of money left over from the NT$2 billion allocated last year, which is why it seems like funding is being cut for the southbound policy, he said.

Discounting the ODA’s share of New Southbound Policy spending, the proposed budget would actually be NT$6.2 billion, NT$1.2 billion more than this year’s NT$5 billion, he said.

The proposal includes NT$3 billion and NT$3.7 billion for government agencies and various foundations respectively, which would mean windfalls for related programs run by the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, he said.

The Cabinet has proposed NT$1 billion for the economic ministry’s Taiwan External Trade Development Council, while the agriculture council’s related programs are to receive more than NT$190 million, up from the NT$175 million last year, he said.

The Ministry of Science and Technology’s Southeast Asia technological cooperation initiatives have been budgeted for NT$4 billion.

Given the trade war between the US and China, boosting the New Southbound Policy budget would help reduce the nation’s economic reliance on China, which is why the Office of Trade Negotiations asked government agencies to increase their related spending, Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) said.

Tourism Bureau figures show that tourists from Southeast Asia last year contributed US$2.816 billion to Taiwan’s tourism sector, making the region the nation’s second-largest tourism market.

Southeast Asian tourists stay an average of 8.1 days, while Chinese tourists stayed for 7.33 days, bureau data showed.

The 1.06 million tourists from Southeast Asia who visited Taiwan between January and May represented an annual growth of 17.32 percent over the previous year, which showed the government’s efforts to boost that market are working, the bureau said.

Bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) said the budget increases would be used to try to attract a greater numbers of high-spending tourists.

While the figures of tourist arrivals so far this year show double-digit growth in regional tourists, Taiwan faces stiff international competition, so the tourism budget needs to match those of other nations, Chang said.

Visa-free entry agreements with Southeast Asian countries have led to an influx of travelers, especially from Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, Chung Hsing Travel Service chairman Ringo Lee (李奇嶽) said.

Increasing up the advertising campaign promoting Taiwan tourism could accelerate market growth, although the government should pay more attention to directing visitors to the south and the east coast and not just Taipei, he said.

Huang Cheng-tsung (黃正聰), associate professor of tourism at Providence University in Taichung said most nations are trying to boost their tourism industry.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top