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Premier denies plans to levy tax to bolster military funds

TAIPEI--Premier Jiang Yi-huah said yesterday that the Cabinet has no intention at the moment to plan or study a special tax to support the military's transition to an all-volunteer force.

The Ministry of Finance mentioned the concept during discussions on Taiwan's long-term finances a few months ago, but no plans have been developed and no new tax systems are being considered, said Jiang in response to a lawmaker's query on the tax at a legislative hearing.

Echoing Jiang, Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford said no such tax was being planned.

Legislator Lin Te-fu asked Jiang about speculation that the tax was proposed to give the government an excuse to abandon its vision of an all-volunteer military.

Some have suggested that with the all-volunteer system getting off to a difficult start, the government proposed the tax in order to incite a backlash and then use that as an excuse to halt the program because of insufficient funding.

Jiang rejected the speculation, saying that the Ministry of National Defense has confidence in the system.

Acknowledging that recruiting drives failed to meet their target last year, the premier said the situation has improved this year because the Cabinet agreed to raise stipends for volunteer soldiers.

“There's no need to use a new tax to help the system,” Jiang said.

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