Thu, Nov 29, 2007 - Page 2 News List

More families to qualify for aid under draft law

BIG BUCKS The Cabinet proposed an amendment that would mean an increase of NT$7.2 billion in annual spending shared by the central and local governments

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal that would see approximately 45,000 low-income households eligible for subsidies of between NT$216,000 and NT$260,000, Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said yesterday.

The amendment to the Social Aid Law (社會救助法) would mean an increase of NT$7.2 billion (US$222.98 million) in yearly expenditures shared by the central and local governments, Lee said at a press conference after the Cabinet's weekly meeting.

The Social Aid Law requires that households meet three conditions to qualify for subsidies:

Monthly family income per capita -- a family's total income divided by the number of family members -- must be less than the minimum cost of living set by the ministry each year.

The minimum cost of living per person per month is NT$14,881 in Taipei City, NT$10,708 in Kaohsiung City and NT$9,509 in all other cities and counties.

In addition, a family's total savings and stocks divided by the number of family members must be less than NT$55,000.

Finally, the value of a household's real estate must be less than NT$2.6 million.

The ministry is proposing to expand the scope of households covered by the subsidies by including as family members all first-degree relatives, including married children, who earn incomes and live under the same roof.

The draft amendment would also exclude real estate that does not generate income from the NT$2.6 million property limit.

The amendment would also differentiate between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal households, making it easier for Aborigines to qualify for subsidies.

"We expect 9,600 Aborigines to be covered by the social aid program," Lee said.

The ministry said that 12 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, adding that this line is set at 60 percent of average monthly expenditures per family, with savings and real estate also factored in.

The amendment would raise the percentage of the population covered by the low-income subsidy from 0.94 percent to 1.1 percent, Lee said.

"In addition to low-income subsidies, economically disadvantaged people are covered by other kinds of subsidies, such as monthly allowances for the elderly and disabled," Lee said.

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said during the Cabinet meeting that the nation's rich-poor gap stood at 6.01 percent last year, down from 6.39 percent in 2001, marking the narrowest gap in six years.

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