The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a revised central government budget in view of the recent increase in pensions for elderly farmers and other social welfare subsidies.
The legislature passed an amendment to the farmer pension statute on Friday that will raise monthly payments for elderly farmers from NT$6,000 (US$199) to NT$7,000 and it also raised eight other major social welfare subsidies for disadvantaged groups.
The legislature also approved adjustments to the increases every four years according to changes in the country’s consumer price index.
Based on the increases, which are expected to cost NT$22.9 billion, the Executive Yuan approved an amended central government budget, which will be sent to the legislature to be reviewed, together with the original budget.
According to the amended budget, the increases will be financed by a 0.85 percent cut in the expenditures in the original budget.
Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said that increases of the eight major social welfare subsidies, including national annuity, will cost NT$13.9 billion and benefit more than 2.2 million people.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said the Executive Yuan must achieve the cuts agreed upon through inter-party negotiations in the legislature, adding that if organizations had trouble with the proposed cuts, they could propose cutting funds from other sources.
However, Wu said that the organizations and units could not make unilateral decisions to avoid cuts.
Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Minister Shih Su-mei (石素梅) told a press conference after the meeting that the Insurance Guarantee for the Aged and Elderly under the Labor Pension Act (勞工退休金條例) was added to the annual expenditure of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, an addition of NT$174 million.
The Ministry of the Interior’s administrative expenditure increased by NT$7.2 billion, while the Council of Agricultural Affairs’ annual expenditure on farmers’ subsidies rose to NT$8.2 billion, plus NT$720 million for subsidizing farmers renting out their farmland to younger farmers.
The total increase to annual expenditure was NT$16.3 billion, with the source of funding to come from a 0.85 percent cut from the next year’s budget still being reviewed in the legislature.
Shih also said that all municipalities’ budgets increased subsidies for the physically and mentally challenged, as well as subsidies for middle to low-income elderly people, totaling NT$6.5 billion, to be funded by the Regulations for Allotment of Centrally Funded Tax Revenues (中央統籌分配稅款管理辦法).
Wu also asked the DGBAS to allot NT$10 billion from the Reserve Disaster Prevention Funds to be used by local governments, saying little money from the fund had been spent last year because of good weather.
The government’s construction policies should be like sunshine and available to everyone, Wu said, adding that the government should promote construction of infrastructure in places that had not seen any “sunlight.”
Whatever can be done to benefit ordinary people should be done, and we should seek breakthroughs to benefit their lives, Wu said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer