The Legislative Yuan Budget Center issued a warning that military personnel costs for the next fiscal year are 53.7 percent of the central government’s personnel budget, the highest in the past five years.
The center’s report for last month, titled Evaluation of the Central Government Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, said that the Executive Yuan should find additional sources of funding for the nation’s growing defense budget, a call the center also made the previous month.
The central government’s personnel budget for next year is NT$426.7 billion (US$13.8 billion), of which 155.7 billion, or 36.5 percent, is allocated to the Ministry of National Defense, the report said.
When the Veterans Affairs Council’s budget for military pensions are included, the military’s share of the central government’s personnel costs increases to 53.7 percent, it said.
That a majority of the central government’s personnel budget is expended by the ministry reflects “a use of resources that is obviously biased toward a minority of apparatuses and a specific subset of governmental personnel,” it said.
Additionally, the Ministry of National Defense’s operational budget next year of NT$265.7 billion is an annual increase of 26.2 billion, or 10.9 percent, most of which is accounted for by costs associated with the procurement and maintenance of military equipment, it said.
The total cost of military equipment is 45.8 percent of the central government’s operating budget, it said.
The Executive Yuan should take measures to alleviate the concentration of personnel and operational funding going to the ministry, it said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said that since former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration decided to transition to a volunteer military, the problem has been building up and there is no solution for it at the moment.
Should the government continue with the plan for an all-volunteer military, increasing national defense costs are inevitable, Wang said.
“One of the few things we can do would be to maximize the return on the military budget by making precise military investments, and increasing personnel quality and operational efficiency,” he said.
In its report for July, Analysis of Central Government Budget, Expenditures and Allocation of Resources Trends in Recent Years, the center said that the ministry has repeatedly raised salaries and benefits to encourage enlistment, which will increase long-term defense costs.
The government should expand revenue before the military’s personnel costs began to crowd out other public programs, the July report said.
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