Fri, Nov 04, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Lawmakers mull infant milk tariff suspension

By Amy Su  /  Staff Reporter

Several lawmakers said yesterday they were proposing that the tariff on infant milk powder should be lowered as a way of reducing the burden on parents and enhancing the national fertility rate.

“We propose declaring infant milk powder to be a tariff-free item to ease the financial burden on parents and encourage fertility, particularly as the low birth rate is having a major impact on Taiwan,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) told reporters after a question-and-answer session at the legislature.

Earlier yesterday, several KMT lawmakers — including Lu, Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) and Alex Fai (費鴻泰) — said they would suggest the Ministry of Finance temporarily reduce the customs tariff on infant milk powder at an upcoming meeting to be chaired by the ministry’s customs tariff committee on Nov. 14.

In response, Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der (李述德) said that temporarily reducing custom tariffs on certain goods could potentially help stabilize commodity prices.

However, the custom tariff c-ommittee would only discuss items proposed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council of Agriculture as a matter of administrative procedures, Lee added.

At present, the ministry had received no proposal relating to infant milk powder, Lee said.

In response, legislators said they were considering including infant milk powder and perhaps other categories of powdered milk on the list of tariff-free items by proposing to amend current regulations.

“We respect lawmakers’ suggestions,” Lee said, adding that the ministry would carefully examine the case.

The custom tariff on infant milk powder is currently 5 percent, with the overall tax revenue provided about NT$90 million (US$2.98 million) a year, the ministry’s data showed.

During the Nov. 14 meeting, the custom tariff committee could extend the cut in custom tariffs for butter, anhydrous milk fat, corn powder, soybean flour, cane sugar and other refined sugar.

Earlier this year, the committee decided to cut the six items’ custom tariff by 25 percent to 50 percent for six months. That cut took effect on Jun. 1, and is set to end on Nov. 30, the ministry said.

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