EXECUTIVE YUAN PASSES NEW VERSION OF ARMS PROCUREMENT BILL
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) The Executive Yuan approved Wednesday a new NT$340 billion (US$10.46 billion) arms procurement draft bill submitted by the Ministry of National Defense to replace a previous one that has been continuously stonewalled by the opposition-controlled Legislative Yuan.
Premier Frank Hsieh appealed to the Legislative Yuan to pass the new arms procurement draft bill as quickly as possible, stressing that the country cannot afford to procrastinate on efforts to beef up its defense capabilities any longer.
Executive Yuan spokesman Cho Jung-tai said that in response to lawmakers' demands and under pressure from home and abroad, the Defense Ministry changed the proposed manner of funding the three items in an arms package that the United States has agreed to sell to Taiwan.
The three items in the package -- eight diesel-electric submarines, six Patriot PAC III anti-missile batteries and a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft -- have a total price tag of NT$480 billion (US$14.77 billion).
In the new version of the arms procurement bill, which is expected to be submitted to the Legislative Yuan in a few days, the Defense Ministry lists the six Patriot PAC III anti-missile batteries, costing some NT$130 billion (US$4 billion), in its regular budget, while the eight diesel-electric submarines and the squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft are listed under a special budget for a total of around NT$340 billion.
Cho said that listing the NT$130 billion budget for the six Patriot PAC III anti-missile batteries under the regular budget means that it will have a crowd-out effect in other Cabinet budget plans next year. To help offset this effect, he said, the premier said at Wednesday's meeting that an extra budget of NT$3.5 billion will be allocated to the ministry in the next fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Cho noted, the special funding of NT$340 billion will be executed over 15 years, through methods including borrowing from banking institutions and selling off public-run company shares or state-owned land.
(By Deborah Kuo)
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