COA rebuts report on card fees for illegal pork imports

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Page 1

Travelers caught carrying illegal pork products would have to pay for the credit card service fees themselves after banks stop covering the fees, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, denying media reports that said it plans to ask for a budget to cover the charges.

Starting from Dec. 18 last year, people caught transporting pork products from areas that have reported African swine fever in the past three years may be fined NT$200,000 (US$6,480) for first-time offenders and NT$1 million for repeat offenders.

Offenders can pay the fines with credit cards issued by Taiwanese banks, while foreigners who do not have Taiwanese credit cards have to pay the fines in cash, or be barred from entry.

A story by the Chinese-language Apple Daily on Sunday said that service fees for credit card payments are now covered by banks, but after an agreement with the National Credit Card Center expires later this year, banks will stop covering the fees and the government — using taxpayers’ money — might have to do so.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine yesterday said that the council allows credit card payments so that offenders can pay their fines promptly and save the council the expense of sending them notices.

The service charges were not and would not be covered by the government, as the report claimed, the bureau said in a statement.

The council is negotiating with the National Credit Card Center to have offenders cover the fees themselves if banks stop covering them from October, COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said when asked about the issue on the sidelines of an event in Taipei.

From Dec. 18 to Sunday, the council issued 201 fines of NT$200,000 each, including 194 to tourists carrying Chinese pork products and seven to those carrying Vietnamese pork products, council data showed.

Among those caught carrying Chinese pork products, 117 were Chinese, 67 Taiwanese and two Vietnamese; the remainder were people from Ireland, Mongolia, Israel, Mozambique, the US, the Philippines, Croatia and Portugal, the data showed.

Those caught transporting Vietnamese pork products were three Vietnamese, three Taiwanese and one South Korean, the data showed.