Critics have lashed out at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over comments he made about bolstering the nation’s combat abilities, saying that he has slashed military budgets, which have fallen below his election promise of at least 3 percent of GDP.
Ma on Wednesday touted improved defense capabilities, urging Taiwanese to be vigilant against the potential breakout of hostilities because China has not renounced its use of force against the nation.
However, one military expert said Ma is playing charades in an attempt to deceive the public once again.
Since the beginning of his presidency, the military budget has seen a downward trend, falling below 2.5 percent of GDP, said the expert, who declined to be named.
Data and reports from Office of the President and the National Development Council show that in 2009 — the first full year of Ma’s administration — the military budget was 3 percent of GDP, but dropped to 2.98 percent in 2010, the defense expert said.
It was slashed to 2.69 percent of GDP in 2011, then steadied at 2.7 percent in 2012 and 2013, before dropping to 2.48 percent last year, the expert said.
The expert said Ma had not fulfilled his election promise to hold the military budget at 3 percent of GDP.
There is a serious credibility gap there, because Ma has continued talking publicly, including in international dealings, about the military threat posed by China, the expert added.
The Ministry of National Defense said in a press release that if the Executive Yuan agrees to major arms procurements in the future, the government can allocate secondary reserve funds or utilize special program funds to help achieve military plans and policies.
The statement said that the military budget is not at 3 percent of GDP, adding however that the nation is ready and able to defend itself amid troop readjustment programs.
“The military will proactively improve the defense and combat capabilities of the nation’s troops and will submit requests for sufficient funding,” the statement said. “The military seeks the support of all Taiwanese, so together we can ensure the nation’s security.”
Ma was inspecting computer-assisted war games on Wednesday at the ministry command center in Taipei, where the simulated military exercises, which began on Monday, are to conclude today.
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