The Executive Yuan yesterday unveiled a NT$237.3 billion (US$8.54 billion) special budget to enhance the military’s air and naval capabilities, including a NT$79.7 billion program to set up coastal anti-ship missile batteries.
On Tuesday, the Legislative Yuan approved a bill authorizing the government to draft a special budget of up to NT$240 billion for arms procurements over the next five years. The bill was later promulgated by the Presidential Office.
Speaking at a news conference after yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as saying that the nation must strengthen its defensive capabilities in response to China’s aggressive military posture.
The asymmetric naval capabilities to be created by the program are crucial to national security and the Cabinet expresses its gratitude to the Legislative Yuan, which acted quickly to raise the budget limit, Su added.
Program funds would purchase precision-guided missiles and high-performance warships, and retrofit coast guard cutters for combat, he said.
Lo said that the premier has arranged to personally report on the Cabinet’s proposal to the legislature and has informed officials to work closely with lawmakers so that the special budget might be approved in the current legislative session.
The proposal would be funded by increasing the national debt, which would make it possible to meet these urgent national security requirements in the shortest possible time, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said in a news release.
The acquisition of NT$79.7 billion in Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems and munitions is the largest item in the budget, the agency said.
The budget authorizes the government to spend NT$69.2 billion on the mass production of Ta Chiang-class corvettes, while NT$3.2 billion in weapon systems and equipment would be secured so that the coast guard’s offshore patrol cutters might be retrofitted, it said.
The air-defense items procured would include NT$8.9 billion for mobile air-defense systems and NT$34.7 billion for ground-based defense systems, it added.
The counterattack systems procured would include NT$12 billion for attack drones, NT$12.6 billion for Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missiles and NT$17 billion for Hsiung Sheng cruise missiles, it said.
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