The Executive Yuan plans to grow Taiwan’s defense budget by 4.09 percent for the next fiscal year, a ratio equal to the rate of GDP growth over the past three years, sources familiar with the matter said yesterday.
This would increase the Ministry of National Defense budget for the next fiscal year to NT$382.6 billion (US$12.78 billion), up from NT$367.6 billion this fiscal year, should the plan be accepted in its present form, they said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is expected to approve the plan in the next few days, which would enable the Executive Yuan to present the budget to the legislature soon, they added.
“The growth rate of the next year’s defense budget is being planned on the principle that it should be no lower than the GDP growth over the past three years,” Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) said when asked about the plan.
As national defense is a presidential prerogative, any plan relating to its budget originating from the Executive Yuan must obtain Tsai’s approval before it is considered by the Legislative Yuan, he said.
The general budget for the next fiscal year is scheduled to be presented to lawmakers next month, he said.
The sources said that the planned defense spending hike is a response to an escalating threat from China, which has continuously deployed aircraft and ships in military exercises around Taiwan.
In addition to boosting spending, the ministry is to receive additional funding in the form of the Sea-Air Combat Power Improvement Plan, a special budget for buying advanced weapons systems, including F-16V jets and domestically produced missiles, they said.
As the special budget is not included in the ministry’s regular spending, actual defense spending would exceed 4.09 percent, should Tsai approve the present plan, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Welfare continued to receive the largest share of the budget, as current plans indicate that NT$2.54 trillion would be utilized to fund its programs in the next fiscal year, the sources said.
Social welfare programs were the biggest spending item in the draft general budget, with NT$690 billion being allocated, they added.
Much of that figure was accounted for by mandatory spending, such as subsidies for elderly people and disadvantaged groups that are required by law, the sources said, adding that maintaining entitlement programs remains one of the highest priorities.
As a result of the raises in welfare and defense spending, the government’s other ministries would likely lose large portions of their budgets, they said.
Taipei on Friday rejected Hanoi’s characterization of its recent live-fire drill near Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) as “illegal,” saying that Taiwan’s claim to the small island in the South China Sea was “unquestionable.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that the comments made by its Vietnamese counterpart about the military’s routine live-fire drills near Itu Aba on Tuesday were “unacceptable.” Earlier on Friday, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang called Taiwan’s military activity “a serious violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty,” saying it had caused tensions and complicated the situation in the region. Hang
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said it is more than doubling its US investment to US$40 billion as it plans to make 3-nanometer chips in 2026 at a second Arizona fab, adding to the chipmaker’s original plan of building a US$12 billion fab to make 4-nanometer chips in 2024. The investment would mark the largest foreign direct investment in Arizona’s history and one of the largest foreign direct investments in the history of the US, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said in a statement yesterday. In addition to the more than 10,000 construction workers at the site, TSMC’s two fabs
PREPARATIONS: Japan has been monitoring China’s moves in the South China Sea and is increasing defense around the Ryukyu Islands, a former Japanese defense official said Japan is likely to recognize Taiwan as a country should the nation continue to be governed freely and democratically, former Japanese vice minister of defense Yasuhide Nakayama said in Taipei yesterday. Nakayama visited Taiwan for the first time to promote the Chinese-language version of his book Statesman Yasuhide Nakayama. Two Japanese House Representatives from the Constitutional Democratic Party recently said that Taiwan had escalated tensions with China, and urged Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to state that he does not support Taiwanese independence. “Their statements do not represent the ruling party or the Japanese government. Nor do they have any bearing on government
ENHANCEMENT: The sale would update Taiwan’s Patriot missile system to improve its missile defensive capability and deter threats, the US Department of State said The US has proposed selling Taiwan as many as 100 of its most advanced Patriot air-defense missiles along with radar and support equipment in a deal valued at US$882 million, according to a US Department of State notice obtained by Bloomberg News. The proposal was made under the provisions of a 2010 sale and so technically is not new. It is classified as an enhancement to the earlier deal, with a potential total value of US$2.81 billion. The upgrade would not change the overall value of that deal, which infuriated Beijing at the time and led it to halt planned military exchanges