Sun, Jan 21, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Ministry plans to combine subsidies for new parents

By Lee Hsin-fang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Children play at a kindergarten in an undated photograph.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is planning to combine two kinds of monthly child subsidies for families with children younger than two while doing away with limitations, following calls by Premier William Lai (賴清德) to streamline family subsidy packages to boost the nation’s declining birthrate.

Under the proposal, the subsidies would be combined at a total annual cost of NT$12 billion (US$407.7 million) to the nation, the ministry said.

Childcare and child-rearing subsidies are two separate items, with the former offered to families who hire nannies and the latter given to families who care for their children on their own, a ministry official said, adding that both subsidies have a clause excluding individuals or families who pay income tax of more than 20 percent.

Families in which one of the parents does not work and cares for the children full-time receive NT$2,500 per month, families classified as mid to low-income receive NT$4,000 and low-income families receive NT$5,000, the official said.

Meanwhile, families who hire nannies are given a monthly subsidy of NT$3,000 if they are classified as an average-income family, NT$4,000 if classified as a mid to low-income family and NT$5,000 if classified as a low-income family.

The Executive Yuan has ordered the ministry to consider the possibility of combining the two subsidies and removing the limitations, the official said.

Asked why the planned policy does not exclude people in the higher tax bracket, the official said that as the government aims to raise the nation’s birthrate, placing exclusion clauses in the policy would not help achieve that goal.

The government will also consider making changes to the subsidies and will continue to promote the establishment of communal public childcare facilities, Lai said.

For children aged two to five, the government would continue to provide government-funded or nonprofit childcare facilities, Lai said, adding that it would also ask private facilities to become public.

The premier said he hopes the nation’s birthrate will increase from 1.17 children per family to 1.4 by 2030.

Lai on Dec. 27 last year said that the nation’s aging population would this year exceed 14 percent of the total population, and that if no action is taken, the nation’s population could drop to less than 20 million by 2056.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that the policy is still under discussion and would not be decided until before the Lunar New Year holiday.

Another official said that the policy would be announced after the holiday.

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