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Difficult to set defense budget at 3% of GDP: premier

2016/06/07 21:01:26

Taipei, June 7 (CNA) Taiwan's current financial situation would make it difficult to reach the government's target of allocating 3 percent of the gross national product (GDP) to national defense, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said Tuesday.

Lin made the remark in reply to a question from Kuomintang Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啓臣) during a legislative meeting, two days after John McCain, chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee, urged Taiwan to set a defense budget amounting to 3 percent of its GDP.

McCain made the call during a meeting in Taipei with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), suggesting that Taiwan invest in increased defense capabilities, including ground-to-air missiles and submarines.

Chiang said that Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) has said his ministry will work to raise Taiwan's defense budget to NT$400 billion (US$12.43 billion) during his first year as defense chief, up from the current budget of NT$320 billion.

"Can you do it? Will you buy Feng's proposal?" Chiang asked. Lin, a former finance minister, said it would be difficult to reach that goal in view of Taiwan's current national finances.

"However, we will use our special budget to buy necessary weapons should the need arise," Lin added.

Taiwan's 2016 GDP is forecast to reach NT$16,971 billion, according to a government website on national statistics. If Lin's Cabinet were to budget 3 percent of GDP for the Ministry of National Defense, it would amount to NT$509 billion instead of NT$400 billion.

(By Wen Kui-hsiang and S.C. Chang)
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