Tue, Nov 20, 2007 - Page 3 News List

KMT vows to push for change to debt provision for minors

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus said yesterday that it would propose an amendment to the Civil Code to extend the retroactive application of "limited debt inheritance" for people under the age of 20. The pledge came on the heels of a similar vow from a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator's office on Sunday.

KMT caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) told a press conference at the legislature that an amendment legislators across party lines had agreed to support was insufficient. The amendment would make limited debt inheritance -- which only applies to those who inherited debt before 20 -- automatic and effective three years retroactively.

The Civil Code requires minors apply for limited debt inheritance within three months of inheriting debt.

Kuo said the draft amendment did not offer sufficient aid to youths burdened by debt. The KMT said it would introduce a second version to make the amendment effective retroactively with no time limit.

Kuo's statement came after the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families told a press conference on Sunday the draft amendment did not go far enough.

According to Kuo, the fund said it had identified 2,000 cases of inherited debt involving people under 20.

The fund said on Sunday it found in a survey of more than 1,700 households that 24.6 percent of minors were burdened with inherited debt.

The survey found that 40 percent of them inherited their debt four to six years ago and 31 percent inherited their debt six to 10 years ago, meaning that 71 percent of them would not benefit from the three-year retroactive amendment, the fund said.

Under limited debt inheritance, debtors are only required to pay the debt they have inherited from the assets they have inherited. If the debt exceeds the assets, all excess debt will be canceled.

Most minors who inherit debt are unaware of debt inheritance and only find out after they have missed the deadline for applying for the debt limit and creditors begin chasing them, the fund said.

KMT Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄), who was also at the press conference, said there should be no time limit in the amendment in order to include all those who have been saddled with debt.

He said that the KMT caucus would never give up its fight for the amendment.

When asked for comment, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also supported the proposal.

"So far, the Democratic Progressive Party opposes [this idea]," Ma said.

"We hope the DPP will take the public's livelihood into consideration," he said.

"It is unfair for newborns to inherit tens of millions in debt that they will never be able to pay off," he said.

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