Sat, Jul 20, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Social care groups criticize trade deal

HOME CARE CONCERNS:Only non-profits can operate homes and care services for the elderly and disabled at present, and there is a fear the industry will be commercialized

By Hsieh Wen-hua and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Denouncing the government for only giving details of the cross-strait service trade agreement after it had been signed, a group of social care organizations yesterday urged President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to halt the proposed opening of the home care industry to Chinese investors because the agreement is unequal.

According to the group, under the terms in the pact signed on June 21, the entire home care industry in Taiwan will be opened to Chinese companies, but Taiwanese firms will only be able to make investments in two Chinese provinces.

Under the pact, Taiwan will permit service providers from China to set up, via joint ventures, small-scale organizations for the care and social welfare of the elderly and people with disabilities, and there will be no governmental control over ventures in which the Chinese capital investment is 50 percent or less.

China will allow Taiwanese care providers to invest, through sole proprietorships of private organizations of a non-business company nature, in elderly care and nursing home services and welfare services for people with disabilities, it said. However, they are restricted to ventures in Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

Representatives from a coalition made up of the Taiwan Association of Senior Citizen’s Institution (TASCI), the Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly (FWE), the League of Welfare Organization for the Disabled and the Eden Social Welfare Foundation, among others, said they see three main “inequalities” in the pact. It violates Taiwan’s laws, places restrictions on modes of operation and places restrictions on geographic regions of operation.

The groups said they are worried that once the pact takes effect, social care services for the elderly and the disabled would be commercialized, its products merchandized, and moved away from the service-providers of social networks.

“Elderly people are not merchandise,” TASCI chairperson Chen Liao Mei-fang (陳廖梅芳) said.

“They worked hard through their lives for their family and they deserve good care in their old age. For this service sector, a large number of care workers are needed. It must not open up to become a commercial enterprise,” Chen said.

FWE secretary-general Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) said that at present, the law stipulates that only non-profit organizations can operate nursing homes and care services for the elderly and people with disabilities in Taiwan.

“Why is the government now opening up for Chinese businesses to make profits in this sector?” she said. “Even more questionable is that our government is allowing Chinese companies coming to Taiwan to operate for profit, but China is restricting Taiwanese proprietors operating for profit in China.”

Hsu Chun-chiang (許君強), deputy administration director at the Chao An Nursing Home Center in Taipei, said that while the pact is an incentive for non-profit Taiwanese organizations to operate social care services in Fujian and Guangdong provinces, he knows what China’s “real intention” is.

“It wants Taiwan’s ‘know-how’ and our professionals. However, it will not let us have the decisionmaking power and will not allow us to make profits there,” Hsu said.

Under Chinese law, the chairperson of a company, a company’s legal representatives and others, such as the founder and owner of a vocational school, must be Chinese citizens.

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