Sat, Sep 24, 2011 - Page 3 News List

KMT changes position on subsidy for elderly farmers

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

A proposal presented by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus to raise the monthly subsidy for elderly farmers by NT$1,000 (US$32.79) moved forward procedurally yesterday after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus backed off from its previous opposition.

The move came after the DPP ran a television advertisement that accused the KMT of obstructing the amendment to the Temporary Statute Regarding the Welfare Pension of Senior Farmers (老年農民福利津貼暫行條例).

Without objection, the legislative plenary session yesterday referred the DPP caucus-proposed amendment, which proposes raising the subsidy from NT$6,000 to NT$7,000 a month and would require an estimated extra budget of NT$8.7 billion, directly to a second reading, meaning it does not have to undergo a preliminary review at the committee stage.

The referral allows the DPP caucus to ask for a vote during the second reading of the amendment if lawmakers across party lines fail to reach a consensus on the bill after a one-month negotiation period ends.

“We did not want it to become an issue in the [presidential and legislative] elections in January,” KMT legislative caucus whip Chao Li-yun (趙麗雲) said when asked why her caucus changed its position on the proposal.

Chao said the KMT caucus would coordinate party members after the Executive Yuan has put forward the government’s position within a month, as promised by Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄).

Some KMT lawmakers have already initiated various amendments, with Legislator Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) suggesting raising the subsidy to NT$10,000.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) did not comment when questioned by DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) on whether the government supported a rise in the subsidy during a question-and-answer session yesterday.

The DPP caucus did not oppose the NT$11 billion budget earmarked for a 3 percent pay raise for civil servants that started on July 1 “and we hope the government will also support the increase in the subsidy for elderly farmers,” Tsai said.

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