Wed, May 16, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers pass education savings act

MINORITY:Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Li-feng said that children under the government’s care have a greater need to achieve financial independence

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Deputy Legislative Speaker Tsai Chi-chang, right, yesterday bangs his gavel in the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber in Taipei to mark the passage of the Act on Savings Accounts for the Education and Development of Children and Teenagers.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Lawmakers yesterday passed the Act on Savings Accounts for the Education and Development of Children and Teenagers (兒童及少年未來教育與發展帳戶條例), which requires the Ministry of Health and Welfare to match deposits into education savings accounts by low and middle-income families and requires local governments to advise families in those income brackets within their jurisdiction to open such accounts.

The act applies to the accounts of children born after Jan. 1, 2016, to certified low and middle-income households, or children who have been placed under the custody of local governments for at least two years.

The act stipulates that local governments should advise the legal guardians of children in low and middle-income households within their jurisdiction to set up a savings account for the children within one month of identifying such households.

Legal guardians may decide the amount of money to deposit into the account every month until the child is 18, up to a maximum of NT$15,000 per year, the act says.

The ministry would then match the deposits made by legal guardians each year, meaning that each child would be able to receive a maximum of NT$30,000 in yearly savings.

To avoid the savings accounts negatively affecting qualified households, which could discourage them from establishing such accounts, the act stipulates that money deposited into the accounts should not be considered assets, meaning they would not be taxed.

The savings cannot be used to repay debts or as collateral, and cannot be sequestered by law enforcement agencies or subjected to any other enforced measures under the law, the act says.

The legislation was drafted to help President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) realize her policy of helping poor children and orphans fulfill their dreams by establishing a fund for their education and careers, providing them a better chance to achieve higher education levels and avoid low-paying jobs, the ministry said in a statement.

Children placed under government care are a minority who have a greater need to achieve financial independence, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Li-feng (李麗芬) said.

The joint deposits by guardians and the government would help these children reach higher levels of education, diversify their options in life and help them escape poverty, she said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) lauded the legislation, saying that after 18 years of planning, the system for savings accounts has finally come into fruition.

However, she raised concerns about a potentially heavier burden on social workers due to the act’s passage, saying that is a matter the ministry should take note of.

The Social Assistance Act (社會救助法) defines low-income households as those whose average income per person is less than the minimum cost of living published by the ministry, while middle-income families are those whose average income per person is less than 1.5 times that minimum.

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