The Control Yuan on Wednesday censured the Executive Yuan, the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Interior for failing to stop “fake farmers” claiming regular subsidies for farmers aged 65 and over.
The Control Yuan found the agencies’ regulations on eligibility for the subsidies too loose, leading to people who do not farm or have never farmed being able to pretend to be farmers to acquire the subsidies.
The Control Yuan report said that under a program that began in 1996, those who have paid into the farmers’ insurance system for at least six months and are aged 65 or over are eligible for a subsidy of NT$7,000 (US$240) per month.
In addition, people are able to participate in the farmers’ insurance system as long as they hold or lease 0.1 hectares of farmland or more.
Applicants for the elderly farmer subsidies are not even screened to check if they are insured farmers or actually work in farming, the report said.
Due to the lax regulations, the number of people receiving the subsidies has more than doubled from 315,192 in 1996 to about 700,000 this year, the Control Yuan said.
The total amount paid out to recipients during this period has skyrocketed from about NT$12.4 billion to more than NT$50 billion, accounting for 70 percent of the Council of Agriculture’s annual expenditure, the Control Yuan said.
The subsidy program fails to provide a clear definition of the status of each recipient, resulting in loopholes through which the unscrupulous can take advantage of the government, the Control Yuan said, adding that the authorities should correct the flaws.
Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said his ministry would review the program along with the Council of Agriculture.