Cabinet approves NT$2.88 trillion 2024 budget
The cabinet has approved a NT$2.88 trillion central government general budget plan for next year.
Social welfare policies will take up the biggest chunk of the total budget. The government wants to spend nearly NT$792 billion on social welfare, including just over NT$120 billion on initiatives to tackle the low birth rate and NT$87.6 billion to expand long-term care services.
The proposed spending on the energy transition will receive the largest increase of any spending category - with a total of NT$58 billion to be allocated for programmes to promote an energy transition and to reach net-zero emissions. The figure represents a 37% increase from this year.
However, total planned spending on those programs could reach NT$100 billion next year, when additional special budgets and other government funds are taken into account. The majority of spending on the energy transition will be used to reinforce power and energy storage systems.
The cabinet also approved a proposal to increase the defence budget by 7.7% to NT$440.6 billion in 2024. However, total planned defence spending in 2024 will rise to NT$606.8 billion, when additional special budgets and other funds that could be allocated to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) are taken into account.
According to the DPP, the budgeted NT$606.8 billion translates into roughly 2.5% of Taiwan's GDP and is evidence of the Tsai government's determination to defend the country. The MND's proposed spending for 2024 includes NT$131 billion for operations, NT$179 billion for personnel and NT$130.6 billion for military investment.
The central government's subsidy for the Labor Insurance Fund will increase to NT$130 billion under the central government's budget for next year. The Ministry of Labor says with that amount, the government will have subsidized the fund a total of NT$277 billion over the five years from 2020 to 2024, contributing to the stability of the labour insurance finances.
The MOL claims that the projected bankruptcy year for the fund is now extended from the original 2026 to 2028. The Labor Insurance Fund has been losing money for years and experts keep warning that with the nation entering the "super aging society," the situation will worsen quickly if no reform action is taken.
Officials estimated that the full-year deficit for this year will be around NT$38 billion. The Insurance Fund covers the pensions for some 12 million labourers in Taiwan, and has a hidden debt of NT$12 trillion according to the latest actuarial report.