Wed, Jul 07, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet extends relief coverage to health insurance, medical costs and land taxes

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

To ease the financial burden of people affected by Tropical Storm Mindulle, the Cabinet yesterday approved several relief programs covering health insurance, taxation and land rent.

Health insurance beneficiaries living in the disaster zone will be exempt from health-insurance payments and selected medical expenses for three months. Those who lost health insurance ID cards will also be issued a new card without charge after documentation from village or borough wardens is supplied.

Affected people will also be eligible for certain tax deductions or exemptions, while those leasing public land located in the disaster zone will enjoy reductions or exemptions on rental fees.

Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said at a press conference yesterday that Premier Yu Shyi-kun empathized with victims of the disaster because he had been one in the past.

"As the oldest son in a single parent family, the premier was forced to quit school and become a full-time farmer from the age of 14 until he was 20," Chen said. "No one knows better than him about the plight and distress of farmers when they see their farmlands destroyed in a natural disaster."

Agricultural losses are estimated at NT$1.8 billion, poultry losses at NT$145 million, fishery losses at NT$240 million and forestry losses at NT$90 million.

The Department of Health's plan to exempt victims from medical expenses will apply to inpatient, outpatient, medical registration and rehabilitation expenses.

At the same time, people are entitled to tax deductions or exemptions on income, commodity, land and business taxes, said Lee Ruey-tsang (李瑞倉), the director-general of the finance ministry's National Property Bureau.

Those leasing public land or public housing located in disaster areas are entitled to exemptions from rental fees from this month until the month when the rebuilding of the house or restoration of the land is complete.

Those leasing public land for agricultural, fishery or forestry purposes are also entitled to deductions to rental fees.

While the percentage of the deduction will be decided on by local governments, those who reap less than 30 percent of their standard harvest are exempt from any payment.

Also yesterday, the Cabinet approved a relief program proposed by the Council of Labor Affairs. The council is offering a total of NT$1.5 billion in loans to families requiring house repairs. Each family will be able to borrow up to NT$500,000, and it is anticipated that 3,000 families will benefit from the scheme.

The council will also spend NT$100 million covering the salaries of some 1,000 workers employed in the cleanup program.

In addition, employers who hire people who live in the disaster zone for longer than three months will be eligible for a NT$5,000 monthly subsidy per person for up to 12 months.

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