Social welfare is to see the greatest increase in the central government’s annual budget for the next fiscal year, a source said on Saturday.
The Executive Yuan has been reviewing draft budgets from government agencies, with the total budget expected to be about NT$2.08 trillion (US$67.77 billion), the source said.
Social welfare spending is expected to total about NT$500 billion, or NT$30 billion more than the current fiscal year, they said.
The second-greatest increase would be seen in education, science and cultural expenses, which are expected to rise by about NT$10 billion, they said.
Defense spending is also expected to increase, but Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) is to give the defense budget estimates to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for final approval before those figures are made public, they said.
Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) previously said that the increase in the defense budget would be at least NT$6 billion.
However, as this year’s defense budget was NT$18.3 billion more than last year’s, the Ministry of National Defense is likely to push form an increase of at least NT$15 billion, the source said.
Tsai is likely to take recent threats from China into account when reviewing the defense budget, but will also need to balance any increase within the overall budget, they said.
The defense ministry has said that its budget estimates take into account expenditure increases, including the costs for the indigenous submarine program and procuring military equipment from the US, the source said, adding that specific costs were pending the outcome of negotiations with US suppliers.
The overall annual budget might still be cut, as this year’s NT$1.99 trillion budget was well below the pre-release estimate of NT$2.22 trillion, the first time the budget estimate had surpassed NT$2 trillion, the source said.
Taking annual increases into account, it is likely the overall budget would reach at least NT$2 trillion, they said.
The additional funding for social welfare would be earmarked for subsidies for disabled people and economically disadvantaged families, while allowances for elderly farmers would also increase to account for inflation, Chu has said.
The government would also inject NT$20 billion into the Labor Insurance Fund, he said.
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