Defense ministry sets preliminary 2018 budget at NT$327.8 billion
Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense has drafted a budget of NT$327.8 billion (US$10.79 billion) for 2018, much of which is dedicated to strengthening Taiwan's ability to defend itself in potential conflicts in the region, according to a ministry report.
The report said the MND is not ruling out a potential conflict in parts of the Asia-Pacific region due primarily to North Korea's missile tests that are destabilizing the area.
With tensions in the region escalating, the MND is dedicating most of its budget for next year to building up the country's military and preparing it for battle.
In particular, the draft budget dedicates NT$53.1 billion to the development and production of weapons, up NT$11.9 billion from this year; NT$31.5 billion to logistics maintenance, up NT$5.5 billion from this year; and NT$2.6 billion to replace the gear used by soldiers, up NT$1.4 billion from this year.
The MND has also budgeted NT$3.2 billion to purchase new weapons from the U.S. -- a category not seen in the 2017 budget.
The NT$327.8 billion figure represents a 1.9 percent increase from the 2017 defense budget of NT$321.7 billion, in line with the ministry's previously stated intent to boost military spending to counter China's growing strength.
But it fell far short of a proposed 50 percent increase in the budget proposed by the government in March to bring defense spending to 3 percent of GDP, from about 2 percent at present.
Beyond the instability caused by North Korea, the increase in spending to upgrade Taiwan's military is also a response to China's strengthening of its own military in the areas of traditional and non-traditional warfare, the report said.
Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) will elaborate on the report in a hearing at the Legislative Yuan on Oct. 11.
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