2012 ELECTIONS: Tsai promises long-term care system

PRIORITIES::The KMT had scrapped a plan from the DPP administration to establish such a system. Tsai said she would also review next year’s budget if she is elected

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 - Page 3

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration would commit to establishing a sound system for long-term care in four years and would allocate public funding of at least NT$40 billion (US$1.32 billion) in four years if elected in January, DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

In a symposium with representatives from various social care groups, Tsai said she recognized the importance of a comprehensive long-term care system that would benefit the young, the old and the disabled as the nation rapidly ages.

A 10-year plan with a budget of NT$81.7 billion to establish a long-term care system, which was proposed by the then-DPP administration in 2007, was abandoned after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in May 2008, and Ma has not paid sufficient attention to the issue, Tsai said.

That is why Taiwan has to speed up the establishment of such a system and why the central government should play an active role, Tsai said, adding that if elected, she would set up a special task force to tackle the issue.

A centralized task force reporting directly to the president would find unused public buildings to use as sites for social care facilities, collaborate with non-profit organizations and coordinate different government agencies.

The presidential hopeful agreed with the representatives, who offered their suggestions and observation on long-term care, saying: “Human resources and money are always the most important issues when it comes to the social care system.”

Other than the NT$40 billion budget she proposed, the government should train more local caretakers, rather than hiring more foreign caretakers, so that more job opportunities could be created, Tsai said.

Most of the representatives who spoke at the 60-minute symposium were not happy with the current administration, with Foundation for the Welfare of the Elderly secretary-general Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) saying the Executive Yuan had offered “more interference than assistance.”

For example, Wu said, the Cabinet refused to include funding for nonprofits in its annual budgets and only agreed to fund them through the second reserve fund — a special budget.

Tsai also pledged to review next year’s national budget if she won the presidential election on Jan. 14 and to make necessary adjustments, because “the DPP’s priorities in governance are different from those of the KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party].”

“At the end of the day, the government’s determination is crucial. We have to get this done, and we will get it done,” Tsai said.