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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Central News Agency

2005-03-01 17:09:49

    Taipei, March 1 (CNA) Premier Frank Hsieh on Tuesday spoke in defense of a special budget proposed by the Cabinet for a NT$610.8 billion (US$18.23 billion) arms procurement package from the United States.

    Hsieh emphasized during an interpellation session in the Legislative Yuan that it is necessary for the government to plan a special budget for the package, saying it will squeeze the other 204 arms procurement items covered by the regular budget if the package is to be included in the regular budget as well.

    The package includes six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries, eight diesel-fueled submarines and a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.

    Hsieh said the Ministry of National Defense will step up communication with the public to try to win their support for the special budget.

    Hsieh said he understands that there is a prevailing opinion among the public that such a large amount of money should have been used to finance social welfare programs.

    However, he said, Taiwan does not have a choice because cross-Taiwan Strait peace does not lie unilaterally with the island, which is targeted by more than 700 missiles deployed by mainland China.

    With the NT$610.8 billion to be spread over a 15-year period, the annual defense budget of the country will be NT$300 billion, or 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) , after a NT$260 billion defense spending package in the regular budget has been taken into consideration, Hsieh pointed out.

    Meanwhile, Minister of National Defense Lee Jye denied reports suggesting that the government will have to repay NT$1.2 trillion including interest for a NT$400 billion loan to fund the special arms package.

    On issues regarding reforms to the military service system, Hsieh said the government is planning to introduce a voluntary military service system in parallel with the mandatory military service system in the short run.

    It is hoped that a ratio of six volunteers to four conscripts will be achieved by the year 2008, he said.

(By Y.F. Low)


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