The Executive Yuan yesterday unveiled its budget proposal of NT$2.16 trillion (US$73.13 billion) for fiscal 2021, which includes NT366.8 billion for defense expenditure, an increase of NT$15.6 billion, or 4.4 percent, from this year.
If including payment for the F-16Vs that the nation has committed to purchase from the US, which totals NT$29 billion and would be drawn from a special budget, and non-profit special funds of NT$57.6 billion, the defense budget for next fiscal year would be NT$453.4 billion, or 2.4 percent of this year’s projected GDP, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said.
Social welfare policies would have the largest slice of the budget at NT$559.4 billion, or 25.9 percent of the projected expenditure, followed by education, culture and science-related expenses, which total NT$429 billion, or 19.9 percent.
The funding for economic policies would account for the fifth-largest proportion of the budget at NT$253.9 billion, or 11.7 percent.
The budget for the third phase of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program is NT$230 billion, which would be used to finance urban planning and construction, rail construction, water facilities and digital infrastructure.
An estimated NT$659.2 billion would go toward policies for the construction of a “social safety net,” up NT$59.9 billion from this fiscal year, and NT$534 billion would be spent on infrastructure projects, an increase of NT$96.2 billion growth from this year.
The budget earmarked for measures to address the nation’s low birthrate is NT$60 billion, a rise of NT$10 billion, or 20.3 percent from this year.
The Ministry of National Defense attributed the bump in the defense budget to increases in maintenance expenses and investment.
The budget increase demonstrates the nation’s commitment to asymmetric warfare and to attain defense autonomy, the ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, estimated revenue for next fiscal year is NT$2.04 trillion, NT$116.5 billion less than the projected expenditure.
Including the fixed NT$85 billion earmarked annually for national debt repayment, government debt is expected to total NT$215 billion, the DGBAS said.
The shortfall in revenue is expected to stem from reductions in tax revenue, as the government has allowed businesses and individuals affected by COVID-19 to delay income tax payments, it said.
The debts would be offset by borrowing NT$191.5 billion, in addition to NT$10 billion tapped from surpluses from previous fiscal years.
Although government spending this year swelled due to work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to bail out businesses affected by the pandemic, the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 32.6 percent is still 8 percentage points lower than the statutory 40.6 percent ceiling, the DGBAS said.
Defense spending has been of renewed interest amid an uptick in Chinese military activity near Taiwan this year.
Beijing yesterday said it had conducted military exercises in the northern and southern ends of the Taiwan Strait in recent days.
The exercises were necessary measures to uphold Chinese sovereignty in the region, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command spokesman Zhang Chunhui (張春暉) said in a statement.
Certain nations have been sending the wrong signal to pro-Taiwan independence groups and this has severely threatened regional stability and peace, Zhang said, a day after a delegation led by US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar left Taiwan on Wednesday.
“Taiwan is an inseparable and integral part of China’s territory and our drills and exercises are necessary based on the current situation across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
The military exercises focused on joint-forces combat capability, he said, adding that the PLA would take all necessary action to prevent any action by pro-independence factions and defend the nation’s sovereignty and territorial unity.
In Taipei, the defense ministry called for calm, saying it was monitoring all sea and air activities, which are normal.
Stable cross-strait relations are the cornerstone for regional peace and the military is capable and willing to defend Taiwan’s democratic freedoms and sovereignty, it said.
Additional reporting by CNA
NOT BUYING IT: One of the goals of Beijing’s Cross-Strait Media People Summit was to draw mainstream media executives to discuss the ‘one country, two systems’ formula Taiwanese news media insist on press freedom and professionalism, and would never become a tool of China’s “united front” campaign, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, responding to media queries about the lack of Taiwanese media executives at the Cross-Strait Media People Summit in Beijing. Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Chairman Wang Huning (王滬寧) was reportedly furious that no Taiwanese media representatives attended a scheduled meeting with him on Thursday last week. “Beijing should take Taiwan’s determination to pursue freedom and democracy seriously. We also hope that it will not use vicious means to interfere with Taiwan’s development into a
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The legislative amendments aim to protect the rights of families to reunify, and to attract skilled professionals to stay and work in Taiwan Foreigners who are highly skilled professionals, top-prize winners in professional disciplines, investment immigration applicants or have made special contributions to Taiwan can soon apply for permanent residency on behalf of their spouses and minor or disabled children after the legislature approved amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The amendments, which were proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, aim to attract foreign talent to Taiwan and encourage them to stay. They would take effect once they are signed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The amendments involved changing 63 articles, making it the biggest
FIRST STEP: Business groups in Taiwan welcomed the deal, which does not include tariff reductions at this stage, as they called for the elimination of double taxation Taiwan and the US yesterday signed an initial agreement under the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade. The agreement was signed yesterday morning by Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Managing Director Ingrid Larson in Washington, the Office of Trade Negotiations in Taipei said. The ceremony was witnessed by Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) and Deputy US Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi. Taiwan and the US started talks under the initiative in August last year, after Taipei was left out of the Washington-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. “The deal that will be signed tonight is not only very historic,
Beijing yesterday blamed US “provocation” for an incident last week in which a Chinese plane crossed in front of a US surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea. The incident came at a time of frayed ties between Washington and Beijing over issues including Taiwan and the shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US this year. “The United States’ long-term and frequent sending of ships and planes to conduct close surveillance on China seriously harms China’s national sovereignty and security,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) said when asked about the latest incident. “This