Wed, May 14, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Executive Yuan proposes funds for senior citizens

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

To better care for the nation's elderly, the Executive Yuan yesterday decided to broaden a subsidy program for senior citizens. If approved by the legislature, the program would benefit between 110,000 and 200,000 additional seniors and would cost the government between NT$3.9 billion and NT$7.5 billion more than it does now.

"After negotiating with the DPP legislative caucus last night, we agreed to back the caucus' proposal. If all fails, we agreed to support the proposal of our smaller ally, the TSU," said Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍).

According to Lin, the government issued over NT$28 billion to more than 860,000 elderly nationwide as of March this year since the program went into effect on June 1 last year.

The elderly welfare subsidy is an interim measure until a national pension program can be established. The legislature passed the NT$16 billion stipend program and the Temporary Provisions for the Elderly Welfare Subsidy May last year.

The means-tested program is for citizens aged 65 or older. Due to a shorter life expectancy, Aborigines qualify at the age of 55, but seniors covered by the labor insurance program or other pension programs don't qualify for the monthly subsidy and want to be included.

Over 430,000 elderly qualify for the stipend under current rules. Statistics show there are roughly 2 million people in Taiwan who are 65 or older, or 8.5 percent of the population.

The proposal to broaden the subsidy program for senior citizens to those already covered by labor insurance has been deemed too costly to the government.

It is estimated that if the proposed subsidy program is broadened, the government would need another NT$5.6 billion annually to cover an additional 156,000 beneficiaries.

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