Lawmakers yesterday passed an amendment to the Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Recovery (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), raising the upper limit of a special budget to bail out industries and people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic to NT$210 billion (US$7 billion).
The new limit represents a NT$150 billion increase to the budget’s ceiling, NT$60 billion, passed last month by the Legislative Yuan, and the amended act is to serve as the legal basis for a matching budget increase proposed this month by the Executive Yuan for its expanded economic stimulus package.
Depending on the development of the pandemic, a second special budget may be planned, but its amount must not exceed the current one, the amendment says.
The planning and spending of the accompanying special budget, for which the Executive Yuan is soon to submit a request, would not be bound by limitations in the Budget Act (預算法), it says, meaning that funds allocated to one agency can be redistributed to another.
Exceptions are special budgetary items that have been annulled by the legislature, it adds.
The budget is to be sourced from surplus revenue from previous fiscal years and borrowing, which is not subject to rules in the Public Debt Act (公共債務法) that limit the amount of capital the government can borrow for the special budget in a fiscal year to 15 percent of the proportion used, the amendment says.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Two proposals tendered by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus — to waive or reduce business tax for operators in sectors significantly affected by the pandemic and waive their import duties — were vetoed.
At the start of the legislative plenary session, KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) criticized the Executive Yuan’s policy for bailing out self-employed workers and freelancers, saying that requirements such as having participated in the Labor Insurance Fund and having an insured monthly salary of less than NT$24,000 to be eligible for a NT$30,000 subsidy are too strict.
He also criticized the Cabinet’s reluctance to issue cash handouts to people subject to an income tax rate of up to 20 percent, saying that what Taiwanese need now is a timely subsidy to help them through the pandemic, citing countries such as the US, the UK and Malaysia, which are giving citizens cash handouts.
However, the KMT caucus did not tender the proposal mentioned by Chiang.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said that the KMT proposal would have given even people earning an annual salary of NT$2.42 million a subsidy of NT$6,000.
Even lawmakers, whose annual salary is more than NT$2 million and who have no need for subsidies, would have received NT$6,000 under the KMT’s initial proposal, he said.
The KMT is trying to score political points with the proposal, but that would only encroach on the budget allocated for people who most need it; for example, taxi drivers, whose business has been seriously affected by the pandemic, he added.
PAPERS, PLEASE: A digital certificate or a printout would return one of three results: green for ‘pass,’ red for ‘not passed’ or yellow for ‘to be determined,’ the CECC said Starting today, people can download a Digital COVID-19 Certificate, with the government now requiring people at night clubs, karaoke bars and other businesses in “eight major special establishment categories” to be fully vaccinated and present a vaccination certificate. The eight categories include dance venues, massage parlors, hostess bars and saunas. Customers and service personnel at the venues have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, as they can neither avoid contact with people nor strictly observe distancing guidelines, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. As such, both groups are required to be fully vaccinated, meaning that they must have had at least a
ORDER OF 66 JETS: Delivering the F-16s faster and enabling Taiwan to develop its fleet into one of the biggest in Asia would be based on ‘risk assessment,’ one official said The US is looking for ways to accelerate delivery of Taiwan’s next generation of newly built F-16 jets, US officials said, bolstering the Taiwanese air force’s ability to respond to what Taipei and Washington see as increasing intimidation by the Chinese military. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that they have not yet come up with a solution on how to speed up delivery of Block 70 F-16s, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp and equipped with new capabilities. The aircraft are slated to be delivered by the end of 2026. Taipei has privately expressed its wish for a faster delivery
‘STIRRING CONFLICT’: Chinese content farms use hundreds of fake accounts to reach ‘every corner of society,’ an official at the Investigation Bureau said China is conducting disinformation campaigns that involve more than 400 fake accounts targeting Taiwanese on social media, the Investigation Bureau said on Friday. China is trying to infiltrate social media, Internet forums and online chatrooms that are popular among Taiwanese to subvert the public’s trust in the government, destabilize society and meddle in elections, the bureau said. Since it started tracing fake accounts and disinformation to Chinese content farms in April last year, the Information and Communication Security Division investigated 2,773 such cases, the bureau said. It has forwarded 174 cases to prosecutors, who have listed 234 people as suspects, the bureau added. An
SEARCHING LINKS: While targeted testing added cases to existing clusters, new cases were linked to the Taipei Grand Hotel and an Yilan hotel, Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 52 local COVID-19 cases, including 30 linked to Taoyuan businesses and 15 linked to Kaohsiung Harbor. The remaining seven cases include a cluster of four — three family members and a friend — in Taipei and New Taipei City, two cases linked to a Tasty Steak (西堤牛排) restaurant in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) and one case in Yilan County, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. As 70 cases were on Friday and Saturday reported among workers at Askey Computer Corp (亞旭) in Taoyuan’s Farglory Free Trade Zone