The legislature yesterday approved amendments to the Long-term Care Services Act (長期照顧服務法) that would levy an additional tax on tobacco and increase gift and inheritance taxes in order to finance the services, as well as revisions to the Electricity Act (電業法).
The gift and inheritance tax rates are to increase from 10 percent to a maximum of 20 percent for endowments of at least NT$50 million (US$1.6 million) and bequests of at least NT$100 million.
The tax on every 1,000 cigarettes is to increase from NT$590 to NT$1,590, or by NT$20 a pack.
The amendments also stipulate that private long-term care institutions that have been established in accordance with the Senior Citizens Welfare Act (老人福利法), the Nursing Personnel Act (護理人員法) and the People with Disabilities Rights Protection Act (身心障礙者權益保障法) before the revisions take effect would not be restricted by the law requiring long-term care institutions to be corporatized.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has called for annual funding of at least NT$33 billion for long-term care services.
With NT$28.8 billion expected from the increased taxes NT$17.7 billion allotted from this year’s budget, at least NT$30 billion to NT$40 billion would be available for long-term care services, Wu said.
Amendments to the Electricity Act also cleared the floor as the nation moves to deregulate the power market and promote “green” and renewable energy.
The revised law stipulates that businesses that transmit and distribute electricity cannot also be electricity generators or sellers, but they can, after obtaining the approval of the electricity monitoring agency, be public electricity retail businesses.
State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) has to spin off part of its business in six to nine years following the passage of the amendments, with Taipower becoming a holding company, one subsidiary responsible for power generation and another for distribution and retailing.
Renewable energy is encouraged, with state-run electricity transmitters and distributors, under the condition that the system is safe and stable, taking grid integration as a priority for developing renewable energy. Electricity transmitting and distributing businesses can offer discounts to “green” energy generators and sellers according to their carbon emission factors from electricity generation.
Legislative caucuses had conflicting views about several amendment clauses, including the status of the electricity monitoring agency, the composition of the electricity price deliberation commission and plans to abolish nuclear power by 2025.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers called for an independent agency, but the DPP, with its legislative majority, prevailed in its proposal to have the agency placed under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
“The Central Election Commission and the National Communications Commission are both independent agencies because fair political competition and freedom of speech have to be protected. However, complete deregulation has to be sacrificed for the government to remain the main supervisor over Taipower to avoid private electricity consortiums exercising monopoly powers and compromising public welfare,” DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said, adding that government officials have to hold a majority in the electricity price deliberation commission for the same reason.
“People want government intervention as they would like to see stable and carefully regulated prices,” she aded.
As for KMT caucus whip Sufin Siluko’s (廖國棟) demand that nuclear waste stored on Orchid island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) be removed as part of the plan to abolish nuclear power by 2025, Kuan said she felt deeply sorry and heart-stricken for the decision not to put a deadline for the removal, “but since we have so far not come up with a better plan, it would be a blatant lie if we were to put it into the law.”