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Minister proposes using government assets to repay national debt

2012/05/14 23:09:40

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Taiwan can consider revitalizing the use of government assets as a way to repay the national debt in the future, Finance Minister Christina Liu said Monday.

Speaking at the Legislature's Finance Committee, Liu presented a report on the government debt reduction plan.

According to the report, the central government's outstanding debt for one year and above totaled NT$4.77 trillion (US$161.63 billion) as of the end of 2011. That equals to 35.88 percent of the country's average nominal gross national product (GNP) for the previous three years, but is lower than the 40 percent legal ceiling.

When including the outstanding debt of the local governments, the amount rose to NT$5.48 trillion, or 41.22 percent of nominal GNP. However, it was still lower than the 48 percent limit permitted by the law, the report said.

Liu said she would like to discuss with the Legislature about the existing difficulties local governments had in making use of idle land.

Land accounts for NT$4.83 trillion of the central government's total assets, which are worth NT$8.80 trillion based on the government's own assessment, but would reach around NT$22 trillion on real market value, according to the report.

Liu added that the task force on sound government financing will travel around the country to discuss finance reforms with local governments starting from the end of May.

Questioned by Legislator Lai Shyh-bao of the ruling Kuomintang on whether the plan means selling government assets, Liu said it is necessary to "rejuvenate" the use of assets in order to help reduce the national debt.

(By Eva Feng and Kay Liu)