Reducing military's budget will not affect nation's defense: MND
By Joseph YehThe China Post
June 15, 2011, 11:56 pm TWN
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday confirmed that it will largely reduce its annual budget for the purchase of military hardware from next year, but said doing so will not compromise the nation's defense capabilities.
MND military spokesman Lo Shao-ho told reporters that slashing the budget — used to buy weapons from the United States — is a way of increasing the flexibility of the military budget.
He further said that while the country has decreased its budget for the potential purchase of diesel-electric submarines and F-16 C/Ds, it had not given up on buying them.
Lo's comments — at a regular news briefing — came after the Chinese-language Liberty Times yesterday quoted a senior military official as saying that the MND would only allocate the “lowest operational necessity”costs for the potential purchases.
The Liberty Times report said the funding would likely be lowered to around US$10 million — down from NT$1 billion last year — making it a symbolic allocation rather than for the actual purchase of military hardware.
In response to the report, Lo said that the ministry has annually been forced to return to the national treasury billions of dollars originally allotted for military equipment purchases.
He said this was so since the U.S. government was yet to decide to sell the submarines and aircraft to Taiwan.
The ministry has decided to reduce the budget for these purchases so that military budget can be used in a more flexible and practical way instead of just returning it to the national treasury, Lo said.
If Washington finally agrees to sell submarines and set fighters to Taiwan, Lo said, the ministry could ask the Executive Yuan for permission to use an additional budget to pay for them.
MND Won't Tolerate Shifting Prices
Meanwhile, Lo also said that the ministry will no longer tolerate continuing price increases for two advanced long-range early warning radar systems being purchased from the U.S.
He said the defense ministry has repeatedly protested to Raytheon, the systems' supplier, over the price increases.
The MND has also asked the Pentagon to tell the company to exercise restraint after the Air Force was notified earlier this year of an additional US$200 million increase, the third since the project was approved in 2003, Lo further said.
The two long-range early warning radar systems — approved by the Legislative Yuan in 2003 at a cost of NT$30.4 billion — were originally scheduled to be built and become operational at the end of 2011.
According to a United Daily News report yesterday, the price of the radar systems had previously been increased by a total of NT$6.2 billion in 2008 and 2010.