Project aimed at farmers
The Executive Yuan will appropriate NT$80 million per year in funds to educate farmers under a five-year, NT$400 million project. It is expected that at least 1,500 people in the farming sector will take part in computer training under the project, and that by 2007, 15 regional teaching centers on farming will be set up. The project, submitted by the Council of Agriculture, aims not only to establish regional agricultural teaching centers for lifelong education and training, but also to set up a management-counseling service system as well as a promotion- specialists system. The Executive Yuan said that one year after Taiwan's entry into the WTO, the nation's agricultural sector has changed, and the impact of high technology on agricultural management, agricultural construction and farmers' welfare has also risen. It is hoped that the program will foster a more competitive agricultural sector.
KMT responds to resignation
The KMT legislative caucus yesterday expressed no surprise at the resignation of former Veteran Affairs Commission chairman Yang Teh-chih (楊德智), saying Yang was deeply frustrated at the ruling party's refusal to back the commission's budget. On Monday, Premier Yu Shyi-kun agreed to relieve Yang from his duties, noting he has suffered from shoulder pains. But KMT legislative whip Lee Chuan-chia (李全教) said Yang decided to quit because DPP lawmakers, on the last day of the legislative session, voted against the commission's proposal to raise benefits for retired soldiers. "By seeking to block the raise, DPP lawmakers, in effect, cast a no-confidence vote against Yang," Lee said. "He once came to my office, angrily saying he would quit his office later." With support from opposition lawmakers, the commission managed to make the legislature to increase stipends for retired soldiers by NT$450 each month. Lee said he regretted Yang's departure and warned the government to cherish talent.
60,000 received subsidies
More than 60,000 jobless workers received government unemployment subsidies last year, which totaled NT$10.204 billion, according to the Council of Labor Affairs. Council data shows that there were 5,881 first-time applicants for such government subsidies in December last year, down by 1,135 from the November level. Last month alone, NT$660 million in government unemployment subsidies were paid to a total of 39,900 individuals. For the whole of last year, there were a total of 100,500 first-time applicants, bringing the total number of applications to 615,000, which cost the government NT$10.204 billion, up by 30.4 percent over the 2001 amount.
■ Foreign aid
Rice donations help Taiwan
The Council of Agriculture said yesterday that the nation planned to send 100,000 tonnes of rice every year in foreign aid to countries hit by famine or food shortages. The council said in a statement the aid would be based on need and not politics. Taiwan is often accused by China of practising "checkbook" diplomacy. The council said the aid would also help trim surplus stockpiles and maintain local rice prices at reasonable levels as the island's entry to the WTO last year opened the floodgate to foreign rice. As part of its commitment to the Geneva-based world trade body, Taiwan allows rice imports of 144,720 tonnes, which account for about 8 percent of domestic consumption.