Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) rebutted media speculation yesterday that the government planned to issue a monthly stipend to children and teenagers.
Su said the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) was simply studying the advantages and disadvantages of giving a subsidy to youngsters.
“It is only a study, not a finalized proposal,” Su said in response to a report published by the Chinese-language Apple Daily.
This quoted a “decision-making official” of the ministry as saying it would suggest that the government give every child under the age of 18 a monthly stipend of NT$5,000 (US$150).
The story quoted Chien Hui-jiuan (簡慧娟), director of the Child Welfare Bureau, as saying that only children born after the policy was implemented would be entitled to the subsidy, but the ministry was deliberating whether it should apply retroactively. The story said the plan was expected to cost NT$12 billion in its first year.
When asked whether government finances could support such a plan, Su said the government’s determination to push relevant social welfare policies remained unchanged, but it was too early to discuss details of such a stipend.
Despite the Executive Yuan’s rebuttal, legislators across party lines voiced their support for the plan.
“This is a good policy because young people [are afraid to] have children since it is a burden to raise a child,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) told a press conference. “That’s why we have almost become one of the nations with the lowest birth rate, like South Korea. We are looking forward to implementation of such a policy.”
Ministry statistics showed that fewer than 200,000 babies are born each year while the number of citizens over the age of 65 had reached 10 percent of the total population.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said the DPP caucus would support any policy that could help young couples cope with rising unemployment and commodity prices.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) lauded the plan but said the government should exclude the wealthy from the proposal.
KMT Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄) said such a policy could serve as an incentive for couples to have more children.
KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) agreed, but stressed the need to rethink the age of recipients entitled to the stipend.