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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Defense budget for 2009 lower than this year: MND

ROC Central News Agency

Taipei, Aug. 29 (CNA) A total of NT$315.2 billion (US$10.17 billion) will be allocated as the defense budget for 2009, NT$10.4 billion lower than the 2008 level, according to a national defense budget plan published Friday.

According to the plan, which is part of a central government budget plan for next year referred to the Legislative Yuan for approval that same day, "reinforcing bilateral relations and rebuilding mutual trust with the United States" will be one of the top goals of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) next year.

The ministry will continue to push its "all voluntary forces" program next year as part of its efforts to adjust the organization of the country's defense system and the structure of the armed forces, which will be another of its priorities for 2009.

According to the defense budget plan, as of the end of this year, the number of military personnel will be reduced to a total of 275,000, including 250,000 on the regular MND payroll.

Of a five-year national defense buildup plan for 2009-2013, roughly NT$1.708 trillion is expected to be allocated by the central government as military expenditure, constituting 3 percent of the gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, the budget plan also proposes a budget of NT$325.6 billion allocated by the central government in 2009 for the procurement of necessary defensive weapons. (By Deborah Kuo) ENDITEM/J

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