Cabinet approves 1st-stage budget for infrastructure plan

Taipei--The Executive Yuan approved on Tuesday a budget of more than NT$100 billion (US$3.28 billion) for the first stage of implementation of the government's "forward-looking infrastructure" plan, according to Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung.

After discussion in a Cabinet meeting, Hsu said that the Cabinet issued a green light for a total of NT$108.9 billion in budget for the phase-one implementation during the period of September 2017 to December 2018.

The Cabinet meeting came after the Legislative Yuan passed a Special Budget Statute for Forward-Looking Infrastructure last week. The law went into effect on July 9.

The statute will allow the Cabinet to spend up to NT$420 billion over the next four years on the country's infrastructure work, as well as high-tech development, in a bid to speed up the pace of economic growth.

Under the new law, the Cabinet is eligible to seek an extension of another four years to continue its investment, which cannot top the amount in the first four-year period.

The infrastructure development plan has been embraced by President Tsai Ing-wen's administration as its anchor economic stimulus project, including investment in a wide range of industries such as rail transportation, water environment, urban and rural development, digital development and green energy.

In addition, the newly passed investment plan will also be aimed at improving food safety, building a friendly environment for child-raising at a time when the birthrate is on the decline, and creating jobs.

In the first stage of the four-year infrastructure plan, Hsu said, the Executive Yuan will spend NT$17.07 billion on rail transportation construction, NT$25.67 billion on improving the local water environment, NT$8.12 billion on green energy development, NT$16.17 billion on digital development, and NT$35.41 billion on urban and rural development.

The spokesman said that the Executive Yuan will also invest NT$NT$1.96 billion on building a better environment for children, NT$310 million on safeguarding food safety, and NT$4.2 billion on cultivating talent.

Before the Cabinet's approval for the budget plan, the Executive Yuan had planned US$112.5 billion in spending for the first stage of the four-year period, NT$3.6 billion higher than the investment approved Tuesday.

However, after discussion, Hsu said that the budget for digital development was cut by NT$2.5 billion and the spending on urban and rural development was slashed by NT$8.7 billion, while the budget for green energy development was raised by NT$1.1 billion and the spending on a better environment for children, food safety and job creation were hiked by NT$6.5 billion.

Premier Lin Chuan said in the meeting that the ministries should prepare a comprehensive argument to allow the public to have a better understanding how the budget was planned and how the budget will be implemented.

The budget plan is pending approval from the Legislative Yuan.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council