Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 3 News List

MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Cabinet mulls NT$70bn typhoon budget

CHANGE OF HEART The premier had told the legislative speaker earlier this week that a ‘special budget was not necessary for the moment,’ but said yesterday that it was

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) said yesterday that the government would propose a special statute and a special budget of at least NT$70 billion (US$2.22 billion) to carry out reconstruction work following Typhoon Morakot.

The Cabinet’s senior officials yesterday calculated the losses caused by Morakot and concluded that more funds were needed for reconstruction beyond the NT$40 billion the government was able to take from this year’s budget.

“It is estimated that we need NT$70 billion for post-disaster rehabilitation. While the [disaster] is still developing, we might need more,” Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said last night.

The decision came one day after Liu told Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and lawmakers at a meeting on relief strategy that “seeking a special budget was not necessary for the moment.”

Su did not give any explanation for the about-face.

Liu had previously said that the NT$40 billion should be enough for reconstruction.

As the legislature is in recess and will not reconvene until next month, it is expected that the legislature will call a provisional session to deliberate the budget request.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that it would need between NT$20 billion and NT$30 billion for repairing damaged roads and railroads and further rehabilitation.

The ministry said that the rainfall and debris from the typhoon had blocked 136 roads, 62 of which had been repaired, while another 73 roads were still under reconstruction; and destroyed 78 bridges, 27 of which were still closed off, while 14 provincial bridges collapsed.

It said that four sections of the Western Line of the Taiwan Railway system had suffered damage, while the Pingtung Line, the Southern Link and the Alishan Forest Railway were also suspended.

The Council of Agriculture estimated that the typhoon has caused more than NT$10 billion in agriculture losses as of yesterday, and the council requested NT$18.785 billion for rehabilitation work.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs requested NT$7.6 billion to repair water supplies and electricity supply equipment, and the Ministry of the Interior asked for NT$20 billion to provide cash subsidies to victims.

Meanwhile, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said yesterday that most domestic banks would provide financial support to typhoon victims, who can apply either for lower interest rates or a two-year roll-over of their mortgages.

“Between now and Dec. 31, typhoon victims can alleviate their mortgage burden by applying for preferential treatment — a consensus reached by the Bankers Association of the ROC [Republic of China],” FSC vice chairwoman Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠) told a media ­briefing yesterday.

“The consensus is binding to the association’s bank members,” she said.

Once victims prove they have suffered losses from Typhoon Morakot, they either won’t have to repay the principals of their mortgages or can enjoy an interest rate cut, as determined by their banks, the commission said.

Local banks will further waive transaction fees for donors who wire their cash contributions to government or charity accounts via bank counters, the commission added.

According to the bankers’ association, some 21 domestic banks have offered to grant low-rate lending to typhoon-hit victims.

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