Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Welfare groups seek help as downturn hits hard

By Loa Iok-Sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Welfare institutions are asking the government for help as they suffer from the economic downturn, representatives from the institutions said at a public hearing hosted by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) yesterday.

“Social welfare is the government’s responsibility and welfare organizations are there to help the government out,” Republic of China Association for Mentally Handicapped People chairman Wang Ping-che (王秉哲) said. “But now we’re also hit by the global financial crisis and a lot of us may have to close if the government doesn’t help us.”

According to regulations, a shelter for the mentally or physically challenged can receive NT$20,000 (US$606) per month for each person staying there.

The amount consists of the monthly payment from parents of the person in the shelter and subsidies from the Ministry of the Interior (MOI). The ratio is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Wang pointed out that the monthly average cost of caring for a mentally or physically challenged person was at least NT$30,000.

“Because of the economic downturn, most welfare organizations are facing declines in donations, while costs continue to rise,” Skill Training Center for the Mentally Handicapped director Lee Chung-hsin (李崇信) said. “We’ve also had a lot of cases in which parents can no longer afford to pay for their children’s stay in shelters.”

“In the past, some organizations could survive on interest from the money in their bank accounts,” Wang said. “But it’s no longer an option now as the interest rate has dropped to next to nothing.”

“If the Ministry of Economic Affairs can cut junior high and elementary school electricity bills by 50 percent, I don’t see why welfare groups sheltering the handicapped cannot get that discount,” Chen said.

MOI Social Affairs Department director Tseng Chung-ming (曾中明) said that the ministry would look into the groups’ demands.

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