In the midst of the economic downturn, the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) is planning to launch a labor insurance loan program by the end of this year.
Those who have enrolled in the labor insurance program for at least 15 years and are not behind on paying labor insurance fees are eligible to apply for loans of up to NT$100,000. The council has set aside a budget of NT$10 billion (US$300 million) for this program and estimates about 100,000 workers may be eligible.
The council said that it would begin taking loan applications around the middle of this month and that approved loans may be taken out as soon as next month.
The council has provided the loan almost every year since 2002.
It is usually paid out at the end of January, which is near the Lunar New Year holiday, so that workers with less money can still “have a good year,” said Shih Fa-chi (石發基), director of the council’s Department of Labor Insurance.
While details have yet to be officially announced by the council, Shih said the conditions of the loan were likely to be similar to those offered in past years.
If conditions remain unchanged, the interest rate of the three-year loan would be calculated by adding 1 percent to the post office’s two-year time deposit rate, which is about 3.25 percent.
While applicants must have a good record of paying labor insurance fees to qualify, other credit histories, such as credit card debts, will not be taken into consideration. Applicants must also be in poor financial condition to qualify.
Qualified workers must make interest payments in the first six months and principal payments starting the seventh month. Unpaid debts will result in decreased injury or illness benefits.
In other developments, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday the government did not plan to allow more foreign labor to enter the local job market nor would his administration consider lowering their wages.
Ma said that while there are more than 400,000 foreign laborers in Taiwan, it only makes sense to hire more local workers to ease the problem of unemployment.
While some have proposed cutting the wages of foreign workers, Ma said the country would be subject to international condemnation if such cuts were made.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KO SHU-LING