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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


ROC Central News Agency

2005-08-31 14:49:56

    Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense's (MND's) annual budget is projected at NT$265.7 billion for next year, marking an increase of NT$7.2 billion from the 2005 level, according to the central government's 2006 budget bill unveiled Wednesday.

    The Cabinet referred its 2006 budget bill to the Legislative Yuan earlier in the day for deliberation and approval.

    MND officials said the increase in the ministry's budget for 2006 will mainly finance the planned procurement of six Patriot PAC III anti-missile batteries from the United States.

    The Patriot anti-missile batteries are one of the three weaponry items included in the MND's long-stalled arms procurement package. The two other big-ticket items are eight diesel-electric submarines and a squadron of 12 anti-submarine aircraft.

    For more than a year, the opposition "pan-blue alliance" of the Kuomintang and the People First Party has used its slim majority in the legislature to hold up the special NT$480 billion budget bill for the three-item arms procurement package, claiming that the purchase would spark an arms race with rival China that could bankrupt Taiwan.

    With an aim to placate opposition parties' boycott, the MND finally decided to adopt a new funding approach by dividing between a modified special budget and the regular defense allocation.

    While the six Patriot batteries will be funded by the MND's regular budget, the remaining two items will be funded by a special budget estimated at NT$340 billion.

    Both come from state coffers, but the regular defense budget carries more rigorous oversight provisions. By so doing, MND officials said, they are hopeful that opposition parties can approve the package as early as possible.

    According to the MND's 2006 budget plan, the ministry's confidential budget will amount to NT$48.2 billion, up NT$6.5 billion from the 2005 level. Its missile unit's funds for arsenal renewal will also increase by more than NT$300 million.

(By Sofia Wu)


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