The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed a NT$236.96 billion (US$8.56 billion) special budget to procure weaponry over the next five years, with the aim of enhancing the nation’s defenses against rising Chinese aggression.
The majority, to be distributed over five years and fully financed through borrowing, would go toward weapons procurements, while NT$89.69 million is to be set aside for logistics and oversight.
The final amount was on Monday adjusted down by NT$310 million during cross-party negotiations, cutting NT$300 million from the weapons allocation and NT$10 million from the logistics allocation.
Funding is to mainly go toward domestically produced armaments, especially precision missiles, high-performance warships and weapons systems for coast guard vessels.
Eight types of weapon systems are permitted: shore-based anti-ship missiles, field and ground-based air defense systems, uncrewed aerial vehicles, air-to-ground and surface-to-surface cruise missile systems, high-performance submarines and coast guard weapon systems.
The production of the Taiwan-made Tien Kung (Sky Bow), Tien Chien (Sky Sword) and Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) series of missiles is also supported.
Under the budget authorization bill, the Ministry of National Defense is required to submit a progress report to the legislature every May that includes spending plans for the coming year.
Prioritizing locally made equipment creates a “win-win situation” for national security and the economy, the Executive Yuan said.
It is the fourth special budget passed under President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). A special budget is not constrained by spending restrictions placed on the regular budget.
It also comes on top of a record annual defense budget of NT$471.7 billion for this fiscal year.
The Cabinet in September last year proposed an authorization bill for the special budget with the goal of safeguarding national sovereignty against “severe threats” posed by China.
The legislature passed the bill on Nov. 23 last year, authorizing the Cabinet to draw up a special budget of up to NT$240 billion for weapons purchases until 2026.
The Cabinet then drafted a special budget and sent it to the legislature for approval, but it stagnated in cross-party negotiations due to an opposition boycott over alleged government partiality in campaigning against the referendums held on Dec. 18.
To pass important bills left after the regular session ended on Dec. 31, the Democratic Progressive Party caucus called an extraordinary session that started on Wednesday last week and is to continue until Jan. 28.
During cross-party negotiations on Monday, a consensus was reportedly reached on most items and legislators across party lines expressed support for enhancing national defense capabilities.
Several resolutions were also passed affirming the importance of researching, developing and procuring arms to keep the nation secure; calling on contractors and manufacturers to protect defense secrets; and suggesting that the ministry conduct security assessments of related personnel and manufacturers.
A group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators also passed a resolution advising more judicious use of special budgets.
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