The China Post staff
Kuomintang lawmaker Wang Chung-yu warned yesterday that the government was teetering towards the brink of bankruptcy. According to Wang, a former chairman of China Steel, the level of debt in Taiwan’s public sector is far higher than the NT$2.9 trillion acknowledged by the central government. Premier Yu Shyi-Kun went on record yesterday as saying that the government had debt of “around NT$3 trillion”. Wang said that based on data put together by his research staff, government debt has actually already passed the NT$4 trillion mark. “I must tell you frankly that we are on the edge of bankruptcy,” Wang said. In addition to the NT$2.934 trillion in long-term debt owed by the central government, local governments are also in the hole for as much as NT$351.5 billion, Wang said. Taipei City alone has outstanding debt of NT$165.8 billion, he said, or an average of NT$60,000 per person living in the city. Wang also included NT$756.2 billion in outstanding debt racked up by state-run enterprises. Another NT$113 billion in funds that the Ministry of Economic Affairs has pledged to use for land purchases as part of a project to promote investment in the private sector was also counted towards the government’s total debt. Wang also warned that there was no sign of the government’s debt exposure getting any better in the near future. The central government is expected to accumulate budget deficits of up to NT$280 billion a year as it moves to stimulate the economy through massive public spending, he said. At the same time, the government could be facing extra expenditures of up to NT$5.6 trillion from bills making their way through the Legislative Yuan that are characterized as “fiscal black holes” by the country’s opposition parties.