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Talk of the day -- Audit Office warns of debt, outdated airport

2010/07/29 13:24:48

The National Audit Office (NAO) on Wednesday warned of theseverity of outdated runways at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airportand Taiwan's growing national debt in its annual report on governmentrevenue and expenditure for 2009.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of theissue on July 29, 2010:United Daily News:

The NAO said in the report that the service period of theairport's two runways expired more than 10 years ago and can nolonger accommodate needs, which it said seriously undermines theairport's international competitiveness.

The problem can be attributed to the fact that an airportrenovation project has yet to be finalized after undergoing threerevisions over the past 10 years, according to the office.

The NAO noted that the north runway has been in operation for 31years and the south runway has been in service since 1984. Pilots andair traffic controllers have been put under great pressure out offear that accidents could happen at any time, the office said, addingthat the runways need a complete overhaul.

The report said that after a national airport company is set upas scheduled in 2011, the first task it will face is implementing aNT$100 billion (US$3.12 billion) runway upgrade plan that involvespartially revamping the north runway and completely overhauling thesouth runway and its taxi paths. The work is expected to take one anda half years.

The final phase of the plan will involve a full overhaul of thenorth runway and its taxi paths, scheduled to be complete in 2014.The Liberty Times:

Taiwan's national debt stood at NT$4.30 trillion as of the end of2009, an amount that would take 62 years to pay back, even withoutthe addition of new debts, according to the NAO report.

The office said that the long-term national debt had increased byNT$1.41 trillion in eight years -- from NT$2.64 trillion in 2001 toNT$4.10 trillion in 2009.

If the NT$240 billion in short-term debt is included, the figurebecomes NT$4.30 trillion, the NAO said.

The NAO issued sharp criticism and warnings. It said that theshopping vouchers issued to all residents in Taiwan following theeconomic downturn did not have much effect.

The report also states that while about 20 percent of lands atscience park zones are left idle, the government has drawn publicoutrage by seeking to launch new science land development projects.

The NAO also raised questions surrounding the controversialsecond-generation national health insurance system and financialproblems in the labor insurance system.

The office ascribed the national debt spike to declininggovernment revenue as a result of various tax cuts and the financialcrisis, as well a shortfall in the government budget for debtservicing. It urged government agencies to seriously reconsider taxcuts and reduce spending to prevent further spiralling into debt.

(By Y.L. Kao)