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.
SOLIDARITY: A group of European lawmakers condemned China’s aggressive moves, while the foreign minister of Lithuania said Taiwan ‘cannot become a second Ukraine’ A German parliamentary delegation would visit Taiwan in the first week of October, German lawmaker Holger Becker on Monday told visiting Democratic Progressive Party legislators Fan Yun (范雲) and Lin I-chin (林宜瑾) at the Bundestag in Berlin. Asked by Fan whether he is worried about possible reprisals from Beijing, such as banning him and his family from entering China, Becker said he is more interested in visiting Taiwan, as “now is the time for democracies to stand together.” Fan and Lin also met with German officials to exchange views on digital education and governance. Investing in digital infrastructure and protecting equal rights to
As China waged extensive military exercises off Taiwan, a group of US defense experts in Washington was focused on their own simulation of an eventual — but for now entirely hypothetical — US-China war over the nation. The unofficial what-if game is being conducted on the fifth floor of an office building not far from the White House, and it posits a US military response to a Chinese invasion in 2026. Even though the participants bring a US perspective, they are finding that a US-Taiwan victory, if there is one, could come at a huge cost. “The results are showing that under
WRONG TIMING: The delegation’s trip has not only disappointed Taiwanese, but could send a wrong message to the global community, Tsai Ing-wen said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) yesterday left with a delegation for a trip to China, drawing fire for visiting at a time when Beijing has been conducting intensive military drills to pressure Taiwan. Before boarding, he told reporters that the delegation would be visiting Taiwanese communities and students in China, and possibly meet with Chinese officials. The Mainland Affairs Council on Tuesday night said that it was not the right time for political party members to visit China, as Beijing has been conducting military exercises since Thursday last week. President Tsai Ing- wen (蔡英文), chairperson of the Democratic
‘MILITARY PLAYBOOK’: It would have taken far longer for the PLA to put together the drills had they actually been in response to Nancy Pelosi’s visit, Joseph Wu said China is using military drills to prepare for an invasion of Taiwan, and its anger over US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit is just an excuse, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday. Speaking in English at a news conference in Taipei, Wu accused China of “gross violations of international law.” “China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan,” he said. “It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyberattacks, disinformation and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan.” He said the Chinese