Premier Yu Shyi-kun defended the government's decision yesterday to increase the monthly subsidies for mentally and physically handicapped people on low incomes from the beginning of next year.
Yu said that even though the government's finances are in poor shape, it should not evade its responsibility in helping the disadvantaged.
Noting that disabled people from poor families make up the most disadvantaged group, Yu said the government must offer them more assistance, including financial aid.
He was responding to criticism by opposition lawmakers that the government's plan to increase the monthly benefits for the disabled from low-income families by NT$1,000 from Jan. 1 is a campaign ploy for next year's presidential election.
Yu noted that those with mental or physical disabilities require support, assistance and social inclusion.
"The increase plan complies with the government's commitment to improving welfare benefits for the disabled," he said.
Since 1991, disabled people from low-income families have been eligible to a monthly subsidy ranging from NT$2,000 to NT$6,000 according to the financial conditions of the family and the severity of the disability.
"Eleven years have passed since this welfare benefit was implemented, and now is the time to adjust the amount," Yu said.
The Ministry of the Interior unveiled a plan earlier this week to offer an additional NT$1,000 per month to the disabled from low-income families. The plan was approved by the Cabinet yesterday.
An estimated 219,524 disabled people will benefit from the plan, which will cost the government an additional NT$2.64 billion per year.
Yu said the central government will include the increased expenditure in its budget plan for next year.
Earlier this month, the govenment announced it would raise the monthly pension for elderly farmers from NT$3,000 to NT$4,000 starting in January.