What has been seen as a main obstacle for foreign nationals seeking to become Republic of China citizens — that they have to give up their original citizenship — could be removed in six months, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday.
The Executive Yuan is talking with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators in an attempt to push through an amendment to the Nationality Act (國籍法) within that time frame, Jiang said.
Jiang made the remarks when he sat down with Academia Sinica to discuss its policy recommendations on the second day of the 31st Convocation of Academicians at the nation’s highest academic institution.
Academia Sinica vice president Wang Fan-sen (王汎森) hailed the promise, saying that removing the prerequisite for naturalization would be vital for Academia Sinica and tertiary education’s ability to retain foreign talent.
The amendment stipulates that foreign nationals would be granted ROC nationality without having to give up their former nationality if a designated commission recognizes the contribution they have made to Taiwan.
Under the current rules, foreign nationals retiring from Academia Sinica, colleges and universities, or other public academic institutions can only have their pension paid in a lump sum rather than in monthly installments if they are not naturalized ROC citizens.
“A foreign researcher in Taiwan earns only a third or a quarter of what they could have earned in Hong Kong or Singapore. It’s unfair to ask them to give up their nationality to qualify for a monthly pension,” Wang said.
Wang called for a speedy review of the amendment.
“A distinguished researcher from the US at Academica Sinica’s Institute of Modern History recently decided to return to the University of Connecticut after waiting so long to apply for naturalization in Taiwan. If naturalization rules remain unchanged, cases like this will keep happening,” Wang said.
The discussion marked the first time a premier had been invited to attend the biennial event, Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) said.
During the two-hour meeting, Jiang identified seven areas of focus to address the nation’s fundamental problems — population and demographics; national special planning; education; industrial policy; social welfare; culture; and health.
Jiang told the meeting he had read the nine policy recommendations that Academia Sinica has drawn up since 2012 and has asked government agencies to take into account suggestions from the papers, while reviewing government policies.
On tax reform, Jiang responded positively to a suggestion that the government impose a tax on the sale of property on the basis of the actual gains earned from the sale to make the nation’s tax system more equitable.
Currently, when a property is sold, gains on the building are untaxed unless they are reported as income, while a land-value increment tax is imposed based on the government-assessed value of the land, which is always much lower than its actual value.
The proposed tax reform would help combat real-estate speculation, Jiang said, adding that the Ministry of Finance would draft a proposal by the end of the year.
However, Jiang disapproved of a suggestion that the business income tax of 17 percent be restored to its previous level of 25 percent for the sake of fairness and the imposition of a tax on carbon emissions, saying it is not the right time to implement the policies.