Taiwan executives hold conference on annual budget surplus

Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong addressed questions from the press

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Executive Yuan convened a press conference on Jan. 8 to discuss plans for this year’s annual budget surplus.

Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮) was asked why the current surplus is not being used to alleviate national debt. He stressed that last year’s public debt was 31.5 percent of GDP, the lowest it has been in the past 10 years, and the government strictly abides by fiscal discipline measures, but the remaining dividends should be used to promote economic development and tackle weaknesses.

Su pointed out that annual surplus of the central government is used to reconcile differences between budget and expenditure in the next financial year, and has never been used, for example, to assist local governments. It is always calculated into the next overall government budget, he remarked.

All special budgets and the total government budget are subject to strict fiscal discipline measures and the statutory norms of fiscal law, Su said, and the Forward-Looking budget never exceeds 15 percent of the total annual budget.

Su said the excess was caused by Taiwan’s competitive growth and changes in social strata which impacted the amount of people who fell into particular tax brackets.

Taiwan’s public debt as a percentage of GDP has continually decreased since 2015, from 34.5 percent to the 31.5 percent it is at this year.