Sun, Dec 28, 2008 - Page 2 News List

CLA reports most applicants ever for labor insurance loan

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

With unemployment and forced unpaid leave on the rise, Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) officials said they had received more applications than ever for the labor insurance loan program.

According to Department of Labor Insurance statistics, since the council starting accepting applications two weeks ago, more than 100,000 people have applied for loans, exceeded the council’s estimate when it launched the program.

The labor insurance loan program was set up to help workers in poor financial conditions “have a good year,” which is why it must be paid out before the start of the Lunar New Year, said Shih Fa-chi (石發基), director of the Department of Labor Insurance.

Each eligible applicant may 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 estimated about 100,000 workers may be eligible.

Although the interest rate for this year’s loan program has been the lowest in the six-year history of the loan, the council was criticized by lawmakers and union representatives for not offering even lower rates, since the loan is intended to help the poor.

“The Central Bank has already lowered interest rates in an effort to boost the economy … The CLA should follow suit and offer lower rates [to workers for the loan],” said Chou Kuo-liang (周國良), acting chairman of the Miaoli County Confederation of Trade Unions.

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